Most Americans — 69% or an estimated 164 million people — are planning to shop or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to an annual survey released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Of those, 20% plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day (32 million), though Black Friday will remain the busiest day, with 70% (115 million), planning to shop then, the survey found.
But other days of the weekend will also be busy: 43% (71 million) are expected to shop on Saturday, with 76% of those saying they want to support Small Business Saturday. On Sunday, 21% (35 million) expect to shop and 48% (78 million) are expected to shop on Cyber Monday.
And Americans have their reasons for shopping over the weekend. Of those who will, 66% say they're taking advantage of deals and promotions, 26% cited tradition and 23% said that "it's something to do" over the holiday weekend. Another 23% said the weekend marks the launch of their holiday shopping. More than half (56%), however, have already started their holiday shopping, albeit few have finished.
The advent of Cyber Monday years ago arguably helped dilute the importance of Black Friday as the singular day for holiday discounts — helped along by the hardcore financial slam that the Great Recession delivered to consumers.
In fact, there are plenty of Americans (31%) who avoid the whole thing. Of those, a bit more than half (52%) won't shop because they don't enjoy the experience and 51% say they just never do. Of those not shopping, 46% said nothing would change their mind, though 27% said a good sale or discount on an item they want could get them to shop.
Those "good sales or discounts" now span an entire weekend — and even earlier for many retailers — and the NRF has begun collecting consumer data to reflect all that. Black Friday still dominates, according to that research, which contradicts findings elsewhere about the encroachment of Cyber Monday. That shopping event is more highly anticipated than Black Friday, according to a recent report from analytics firm Euclid.
Still, it's clear that Black Friday continues to morph from a day to a concept, and it's therefore now easier for shoppers to access deals without the frenzy that can be maddening at best and dangerous at worst. But they may also lead consumers to put off some purchases until the dawn of what is now more than a month of holiday discounts. Nearly half (47.8%) of American adults (more than 117 million) hold off purchasing things in the lead up to holiday sales, with a one- to two-month wait the most common, followed by "a few weeks," according to comparison site Finder.com. In fact, 5.9% wait an entire year, that survey found.
But many Americans shop during this period just because it's the holidays. When Prosper asked what consumers enjoy the most about shopping during the holidays, 35% said it is a family tradition, 23% said they most enjoy holiday decorations and displays, and 18% said they look for the perfect gift for someone on their list.
"While the utility of the weekend will continue to draw shoppers into stores and online to efficiently and inexpensively check off their lists, we're also seeing consumers report tradition and the opportunity to partake in holiday cheer as reasons for shopping, too," Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said in a statement. "By now, people know what sort of deals they can expect to see during the weekend and are budgeting for them accordingly, and in many cases expertly."
For this study, Prosper surveyed 7,439 consumers between Oct. 31-Nov. 7 about their shopping plans.