Shopping during Thanksgiving weekend is no longer only shoving through aisles of stores for the best deals—now it’s navigating the web, too.
“We’ve definitely seen Cyber Monday really start to take off and people really associate it with Thanksgiving weekend,” said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights with the National Retail Federation. “As retail changes, most retailers today have major eCommerce sites so it’s blending together. Consumers are now expecting to be able to shop how they prefer, online or in-store.”
The NRF started tracking Cyber Monday trends in 2005 when the concept really started to take off, Cullen said.
This year, the NRF is expecting more than 165 million people to shop nationwide over the five-day holiday weekend.
The highest expected shopping day will be Friday with a potential 114.6 million shoppers followed by the second highest day on Monday with 68.7 million shoppers. This is slightly lower than the season before, which had been predicted to have 116.4 million shoppers on Friday and 75.8 million on Monday in 2018.
“What we’re seeing is the consumers like to be able to spread their shopping around,” Cullen said. “They want to have more time to find and research items. There will always be people who enjoy the rush of door-buster deals, but now people have more options.”
Of those expected to shop during the holiday weekend, there is an even split of people who plan to start their shopping in-store at 47 percent compared to starting online at 41 percent, according to data from the NRF.
“People are really coming to this as a five-day shopping event,” she said.
Data showed that 65 percent of people will be shopping this weekend because “the deals are too good to pass up,” however, Cullen said many of these deals have started becoming available earlier than Thanksgiving weekend.
Cullen said while Thanksgiving weekend might still have some particularly savvy deals, a lot of retailers are starting their sales as early as the beginning of November, which means people don’t have to do all their shopping in one weekend.
She said there are different promotions that engage consumers throughout the holiday season and so people are starting to make their holiday shopping last longer.
Instead, customers participate in Black Friday shopping for the tradition and social aspect.
Cullen said studies have shown consumers younger than 25 tend to be more interested in the social aspect of Black Friday shopping.
“Even as people are starting to purchase gifts earlier in the season, consumers still enjoy finding good Thanksgiving deals and passing time shopping with family and friends over the long holiday weekend,” said Matthew Shay, chief executive officer of the NRF, in a news release.
In terms of spending, the NRF’s annual forecast predicts that holiday retail sales in November and December will be up between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over the 2018 prediction total, which was between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.
“People are spending a lot this holiday season,” Cullen said. “But they’re spreading that out throughout the season. [Black Friday and Cyber Monday] are good for retail overall because it’s giving consumers what they want, which are shopping options.”