Holiday Special: Thanksgiving weekend and beyond

Thanksgiving is a time for turkey and pie, family and friends — and sales and shopping. This year, two-thirds of Americans shopped for sales during the five-day weekend. The shopping event has evolved from the time when it signaled the official start of the holiday season — consumers now spread their shopping over the two final months of the year — but it is still the emotional kickoff to the winter holidays.

In this holiday edition of Retail Gets Real, NRF’s Director of Industry and Consumer Insights Katherine Cullen discusses what retailers saw between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday and what it means for the 2018 holiday season.

Whether it was purchasing for friends and family or picking up something for themselves, 89 million consumers shopped both online and in stores, a nearly 40 percent increase from a year ago. “This is the age of the empowered consumer,” Cullen says. “They want to be able to shop when they want, where they want, and buy what they want at any time that’s convenient to them.”

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Social media has a growing role: Instagram saw the most significant growth, with 9 percent of consumers using the platform to track deals — 73 percent more than last year. Surprisingly, Cullen says, more men used Pinterest to look for information about sales over the weekend than women. Unsurprisingly, younger consumers spent more time on social media; during the holidays, their usage even doubled among some age groups.

Multichannel shopping is the new reality of how people shop today — shoppers who used more than one way to look for deals spent up to $93 more than those who shopped a single channel. Men spent slightly more on their holiday purchases in general than women, likely because they buy more high-priced items such as electronics.

Listen to the episode to learn more about what’s changing about Thanksgiving weekend in terms of consumer behavior and how it will affect holiday sales overall. To see and download the data, visit NRF’s Winter Holiday headquarters.

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