More than 166 million Americans plan to shop Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Shoppers will likely shrug off this year’s sharply higher prices for holiday gifts and come out in force this Thanksgiving weekend.

That’s the forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF), based on its annual pre-turkey poll of U.S. consumers. According to the survey of 7,719 adults, conducted Nov. 1-8 and extrapolated by Prosper Insights & Analytics, an estimated 166.3 million Americans are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year.

Despite such headwinds as sky-high inflation and soaring interest rates, the expected turnout is 8 million more than last year and the most since NRF began tracking this data in 2017.

Black Friday continues to be the most popular day to shop, the trade association said, with 69% (114.9 million) planning to shop the day after Thanksgiving, followed by 38% (63.9 million) on Cyber Monday.

Among the 114.9 million Black Friday shoppers, 67% say they expect to visit retail stores, up from 64% in 2021.

All told, more than two-thirds (69%) of holiday shoppers plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend this year. Their top reasons: because the deals are too good to pass up (59%); because of tradition (27%); and because it is something to do over the holiday (22%).

“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” said NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay.

Online search remains the most popular source of shopping inspiration, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by friends and family (35%) and within a retail store (31%).

With the ever-sooner start to the holiday selling season, 60% of those polled had begun browsing and buying in early November, up from 56% in 2019, while 18% of shoppers have already completed at least half their holiday shopping, up from 11% a decade ago.

See: October Surprise: Black Friday is Already Underway

Still, consumers continue to save the bulk of their holiday shopping for later in November and December, said Prosper executive VP Phil Rist, giving retailers plenty of sales opportunities ahead.

NRF’s Shay concurred. “We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the weeks ahead, and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at prices they want to pay,” he said.

The trade group expects holiday sales during November and December to grow between 6% and 8% over 2021, to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion, shattering previous records.  Holiday retail sales have averaged an increase of 4.9% over the past 10 years, NRF said, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains.