Thanksgiving Day Spending Statistics, Trends, and Fun Facts (US & UK)

As retail stores compete to grab the biggest piece of the Thanksgiving weekend holiday sales more and more stores are opening their doors early and starting the holiday shopping season off on the day of Thanksgiving itself.

While many consumers and some retailers have spoken out against shopping on the U.S. holiday, it has not seemed to deter the hoards of shoppers willing to eat early so they can seize on some of the best deals of the holiday shopping season.

In 2017 the sales were up 5.5% from the previous Thanksgiving shopping day letting retailers know that consumers want the new shopping day to stay.

Who is Most Likely to Shop on the Thanksgiving Holiday?

In 2017 58% of shoppers decided to shop the first day of the sales which was an increase of 40% over the previous year.

While many people were enticed by such things as gift card giveaways and special sales, some chose to shop on Thanksgiving in hopes of scoring some deals and beating the larger crowd that they expected to find on Black Friday.

So what demographics decided to shop on the day of Thanksgiving?

  • Millennials were the highest group of shoppers on Thanksgiving night representing 27% of all shoppers.
  • The second highest percentage of shoppers on Thanksgiving were Gen Xers with 25%.
  • Baby Boomers came in the third highest though at a significant drop ringing in at 13%.
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    The lowest number of shoppers on Thanksgiving day were seniors with only 5% going out for deals.
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    Parents comprised one of the highest number of shoppers on Thanksgiving day with 32%.
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    Non-parents only saw a percentage of 15% taking advantage of early sales.
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    28% of women and 32% of men plan to spend somewhere between $200 and $500 dollars on Thanksgiving Day shopping.

How Will Online Shopping Affect Thanksgiving Day Sales?

With many consumers spending Thanksgiving day with family and friends, a lot will take advantage of online shopping to secure some of the best Thanksgiving Day deals without having to cut their holiday festivities short.

  • 30% of males shopped online only with 10% of females shopping exclusively online.
  • 21% of males shopped exclusively in-store with females choosing this option more often and accounting for 37% of consumers.
  • Both men and women took advantage of both shopping online and in-store with 48% of men using both and 53% of women.
  • When it came to online-exclusive shopping by generations Baby Boomers topped the list with 24%, followed by millennials at 20%, and lastly by Gen Xers at 15%.
  • In terms of shopping exclusively in stores for Thanksgiving, Gen Xers were the highest with 38% followed by baby boomers at 36%, and there was a steep drop with millennials at 19%.
  • When surveyed about which generation chose to shop both online and in-stores, the highest rate was millennials at 61%, followed by Gen Xers at 46%, and lastly were Baby Boomers at 40%.

What Types of Gifts Are Shoppers Most Likely to Buy on Thanksgiving Day?

Most gifts that are bought on Thanksgiving Day are in preparation for the upcoming Christmas holidays. With consumer shopping for family, friends, coworkers, and even themselves, the items that are most likely to be purchased on Thanksgiving are extremely diverse.

  • 38% of shoppers will purchase clothing.
  • 24% will purchase small electronics and jewelry.
  • 20% will purchase perfume or cologne.
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    Tools, shoes, accessories, video games, music, and personal products all saw the same percentage of buyers at 17%.
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    16% of consumers will be going to buy large electronics.
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    14% will take advantage of sales for beauty gifts.
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    10% will purchase items for the kitchen.
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    4% will purchase children books or games.

What Did Shoppers Buy in Preparation for Their Thanksgiving Meal?

One of the most important purchases that many people will make for the holiday season is items for the meal they will share with their immediate or extended family. Some interesting statistics about Thanksgiving Day meal purchases include:

  • The cost for a Thanksgiving dinner has gone up by 36% over the past five years.
  • Over 46 million turkeys will be bought for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • One in six people in the U.K. will celebrate the American holiday with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
  • The price of an average turkey has gone up over 46% since 2005.

What Type of Stores Will Shoppers Most Frequent on Thanksgiving?

So many stores have begun to participate in the Thanksgiving holiday sales so the number of venues for consumers to shop at is varied. Topping the list of most frequented places are department stores and clothing and apparel retailers.

  • 40% of shoppers plan to stop by a department store on Thanksgiving Day.
  • 36% plan to stop by a music or bookstore.
  • Technology stores will see 35% of consumers on the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • 30% plan to spend their Thanksgiving dollars at a toy store.
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    28% plan to make purchases at a store that specializes in health and beauty.
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    26% plan to shop at a family apparel store.
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    24% plan to make purchases at a women's shoe store.
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    23% of consumers plan to take advantage of discounts and sales at an outlet store.
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    20% will shop at stores that specialize in men's shoes.
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    19% will shop for children's shoes.
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    18% of shoppers will pay a visit to the dollar store.
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    15% will take advantage of smaller pharmacy shops.
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    14% will shop at home improvement stores.
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    12% will take advantage of discounted deals at jewelry stores.

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day has many unique facts both about the celebration of the holiday as well as recent spending and retail habits now that it is one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year.

  • The Thanksgiving Day holiday was canceled during Thomas Jefferson's presidency.
  • The first Macy's Day Thanksgiving parades used live animals.
  • The average spent on a 10 person Thanksgiving dinner is $49.87.
  • 50% of Thanksgiving Day shoppers said it was the great deals that got them to the stores.
  • 32% of all Thanksgiving day shoppers bought toys.
  • 50% of Thanksgiving Day consumers bought clothing on sale.
  • $5.27 billion was spent online over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
  • Consumers will purchase 16 million greeting cards for the holiday season.
  • Radio Shack was originally open all day but later closed for five hours to give employees time with their families.
  • While only 16% of those 55 or older think opening stores on Thanksgiving is a good idea, 50% of 18 to 24-year-olds believe it is.
  • Kmarts will be open for 42 consecutive hours starting on Thanksgiving day.

In Conclusion

While many people may be torn between family obligations and the allure of great shopping deals, statistics show that many consumers are in favor of starting the holiday shopping weekend early.

An increase in online shopping over the years as well as being able to secure most of the in-store deals online has increased at-home shopping on the holiday for those who choose not to go out and brave the lines.

As retail stores continue to fight to get the most consumers into their stores, consumers will continue to see earlier openings and better Thanksgiving day deals from many retail vendors.