Thanksgiving shopping weekend expected to break pre-pandemic levels

People shopping at stores

Even with inflation and most retailers now closed on Thanksgiving itself, the upcoming holiday weekend is expected to garner more shoppers than before the pandemic.

According to the National Retail Federation, 166.3 million consumers are expected to shop this weekend, breaking 2019’s record of 165.3 million shoppers.

Black Friday remains the overwhelming top day for shopping, drawing 114.9 million consumers. Thanksgiving itself is expected only to have 32.9 million.

In 2019, when many retailers opened on Thanksgiving in the evening for shoppers, Thanksgiving garnered 39.6 million customers that year.

Cyber Monday is also not expected to be the draw it once was. In 2019, Cyber Monday drew 68.7 million customers. This year, it’s expected to garner 63.9 million.

There are also signs more Americans are starting their holiday shopping early. The National Retail Federation reports that 60% of U.S. consumers began their holiday shopping by the first week of November this year. That number has gradually increased, from 56% in 2019 and 48% in 2009.

“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,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “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.”

Government data indicates that inflation has not impacted non-essential items as much as things like food, energy and shelter.

Commodities have gone up 5.1% in the last year, compared to 10.9% for food, 17.6% for energy and 6.9% for shelter. Apparel, which is generally one of the top holiday gifts, saw a 4.1% increase in prices in the last year.

By Justin Boggs, Scripps National.

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