Thanksgiving Spending Statistics, Trends, and Fun Facts

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28 February, 2024 • Updated 7 days ago
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 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 shopping season.

In 2020, online sales hit a record $5.1 billion, up 21.5% from the year prior, letting retailers know that consumers want the new shopping day to stay. 

Travelling for Thanksgiving

Each year, Thanksgiving plans change a little. Last year’s pandemic brought big changes to people’s plans, especially if they intended to travel to meet their families during Thanksgiving.  

In 2020, 65% of Americans planned to travel less or not at all to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones during the holiday season, compared to 2019. 

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, as seen in 2020 Black Friday Statistics

So, what do people think of travelling to their destination during this time? 

  • 27% of 25–34-year-olds thought travelling for Thanksgiving is risky, but they believed it’s worth the risk to spend time with family, according to Statista.
  • only 17% of 55-year-olds and older shared the same opinion, according to the same report.
  • 56% of Americans still planned to travel for Thanksgiving, according to Tripadvisor’s Thanksgiving Travel Index.
  • Over three-fourths (76%) planned to drive to their destination, and only 11% of them planned to fly to their Thanksgiving table, according to the same study.
  • 94.6% of Americans travelled by car to their destination, while 4.7% of them travelled in an aeroplane, according to Statista.

In 2021, with the borders slowly opening up after harsh lockdowns, people opted to spend more money to see their loved ones. Although last year many decided not to travel, this year is a bit different.

  • 44.46% of people plan to spend $500 or less on travel for Thanksgiving this year
  • 35% of people plan to spend $0 on travel
  • 10.25% plan to spend $501 to $1000
  • 5.03% plan to spend between $1001 and $1500 for their Thanksgiving travels this year, according to, according to Statista.

How Will Online Shopping Affect the Sales?

Woman Buying clothes.
Parents represent one of the biggest buyers groups during Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving expenses rise each year. Naturally, some people want to save money while doing it, so they will turn to online shopping for the Thanksgiving feast.

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

  • In 2020, 74% of people planned to shop online during the occasion to avoid crowds due to Covid-19, according to Deloitte’s research.
  • 61% of them was unsure or had no plans to shop together with family/friends in-store during the period, according to the same research.
  • 30% still preferred traditional department stores to shop for the occasion, according to the same research.
  • 76% of the people want the stores to be closed on the occasion, according to Bagsaway.
  • 77% of the consumers want the purchased items to be delivered to their home, according to Accenture.
  • 23% of U.S. consumers are most likely to begin shopping before the Day, as opposed to 22% of them doing so on or before, according to Statista.

What Types Of Gifts Are Shoppers Most Likely To Buy for the Occasion?

Clothes store.
Clothes are one of the Top Picks for Thanksgiving presents.

Since average American shops for family, friends, coworkers and even themselves, the items that are most likely to be purchased on the event are extremely diverse and don’t include only the items for Thanksgiving dinner. On the day before Thanksgiving 2020, the most popular gifts were:

  • Just Dance 2020
  • Frozen 2
  • L.O.L Surprise Dolls
  • Samsung TVs
  • Instapots.

On Thanksgiving Day 2020, the most popular products were:  

  • Frozen 2
  • L.O.L Surprise Dolls
  • Fire TVs
  • Apple laptops
  • Madden 20.

On the day after Thanksgiving 2020, (Black Friday), the most sold products were:  

  • L.O.L Surprise Dolls
  • Frozen 2 Toys
  • FIFA20
  • Madden 20
  • Nintendo Switch, according to Bagsaway.

What Shoppers Want During Thanksgiving

So many stores have begun to participate in the Thanksgiving holiday and the demands of shoppers change each year. Here’s what they were looking for in 2020.

  • Better deals/lower prices, incl. more ads (47%)
  • COVID-19 safety precautions, incl. crowd control (23%)
  • Convenience-centric planning, incl. assistance, checkout, and timings (10%)
  • Product availability/avoid stock-outs (13%)
  • Free or fast delivery and return options (4%)
  • Online deals and offerings, incl. comparability with in-store (3%), according to Deloitte’s research.

What Did Shoppers Buy in Preparation for Their Thanksgiving Feast?

Roast turkey is the most common Thanksgiving meal

Many opted for smaller gatherings to minimise the expenses since we were in the pandemic times. Last year was a tough one for an average American and many took out personal loans to cover Thanksgiving costs, but most of them managed to buy everything they needed for Turkey day.

One of the most important purchases that many people will make for the celebration season is items for the meal they will share with their immediate or extended family. 

Consumers had top 10 Thanksgiving foods in 2020:

  • 70% of them said they’ll eat turkey
  • 66% mentioned mashed potatoes
  • 64% stuffing or dressing
  • 55% said they will eat gravy
  • the same went for bread at 55%, while
  • 48% mentioned pumpkin pie
  • 44% said they’ll eat sweet potatoes
  • 43% mentioned apple pie, while
  • cranberry sauce at 39% and corn at 37% were the most-consumed side dishes for Thanksgiving, according to PRnewswire.

Thanksgiving Food Spend and Other Statistics

Last year’s Thanksgiving spending numbers were not as big as Black Friday spend or Cyber Monday spending, but they did make up a significant portion of the revenue for various retailers, and mostly those who sell food.

Pizza consumption is not as popular for the holiday, but there are other food categories on which people usually splash out when this time of the year comes. Let’s see what is the overall cost of different food for these types of holidays.

Gatherings in the Post-Pandemic Times

Although it saved our budget, the pandemic changed many people’s plans last year. The gatherings with our loved ones were either short or never included more than a few people. 

However, this year will definitely be different.  

The Monmouth University Poll found that 63% of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving 2021 with the same number of people as they did before the coronavirus pandemic, as opposed to only 46% saying the same in the year prior. 

Of those celebrating, 5% said that “there will be more people attending their dinner this year compared to pre-pandemic times.” 

Moreover, the same study concluded that 64% of people hosting the event in their home “will not ask guests if they have been vaccinated from the virus.” 

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Spending

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

  • The event was cancelled during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency starting 1801 and Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a federal Holiday back in 1863, according to Goennounce.
  • The first Macy’s Day Thanksgiving parades used live animals, according to NYC tourist.
  • The average spent on a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner in 2019 was $48.91, according to Statista.
  • Originally, Thanksgiving may not have been celebrated in November at all, but rather mid-October, according to Town & Country.
  • Americans eat 704 million pounds of turkey every Thanksgiving, according to Best Life Online.
  • The average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving is 4,500, according to WorldStrides.
  • Some people believe that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1598 in San Elizario, Texas, near El Paso, according to Country Living.
  • A Thanksgiving mix-up inspired the first TV dinners, according to Good Housekeeping.

People Also Ask

Why is Thanksgiving on a Thursday?

Thursday became the day to celebrate Thanksgiving for two possible reasons: either to distance it from the Sabbath day or because that day in the week was a typical day for the ministers to give a religious talk.

When was the first Thanksgiving?

The earliest Thanksgiving celebration was probably in 1578, but the most common thought is that the first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in 1621.

How does a Thanksgiving meal look like?

Thanksgiving celebrations always include a typical Thanksgiving meal (Thanksgiving dinner or turkey dinner.) It consists of roast turkey and side dishes (mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.) Dessert usually includes an apple pie or a pumpkin pie.

What’s the story of Thanksgiving?

According to one story that’s probably false, the first Thanksgiving happened in 1620. While fleeing religious persecution, a group of Pilgrims settled on Plymouth Rock. They celebrated a successful harvest with the Native American Wampanoag tribe after a really harsh winter.

Another story that is closer to the truth is that when they first met, the Pilgrims actually stole from the tribe’s winter provisions. Ousamequin, the tribe’s leader, formed an alliance between the groups much later and only due to the fact that the tribe was ravaged by the diseases brought from Europe. After years of exploitation of the Wampanoag tribe’ lands and people, it all escalated in the King Philip’s War (the Great Narragansett War) when the European settlers won. This event caused great losses and it is remembered today as a day of deep mourning for the tribe’s descendants.

Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1942 that stated that the fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day. After the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1924, the holiday became the symbol of unity of family members even though the history behind it isn’t as nice as one would expect.

Who are Thanksgiving Pilgrims?

The Thanksgiving Pilgrims are the Europeans (English colonists) who came to Massachusetts.


While many people may be torn between family obligations and the allure of great shopping deals, statistics show that many consumers are in favour of starting the holiday shopping weekend early and many families’ last thought is to save money during it. 

An increase in online shopping and spending over the years as well as being able to secure most of the in-store deals online has increased at-home shopping on Turkey Day 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 deals from many retail vendors to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving feast.

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