Stores Closing on Thanksgiving? They May Want to Think Twice, Reports NPD

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The average shopper spend on Thanksgiving Day 2015 was the 2nd highest of the whole year

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“Now, retailers need to figure out how to get the attention of those shoppers, whether it is through timing of promotion, expanded store hours, or online flexibility and convenience,” said Marshal Cohen.

The average amount spent by shoppers on Thanksgiving Day 2015 relative to other key shopping days may give pause to retailers, according to new The NPD Group, a leading global information company. A fifth of shoppers plan to do more of their holiday gift shopping online this year than they did last year*, but based on analysis from NPD’s receipt mining service, Checkout Tracking℠, there is also strong historical data indicating that there is value in stores keeping their doors open on Thanksgiving Day.

The eye-opening reality about the 2015 holiday shopping season is that, despite predictions of diluted and weak sales, Thanksgiving Day was the #2 ranked in-store shopping day of the year, based on the average amount spent per shopper on that day. Black Friday 2015 was ranked first. While the number of buyers in stores was less on both Black Friday (44 percent share of all 2015 buyers) and Thanksgiving (26 percent) than on the Saturday before Christmas (46 percent), the two November dates topped the charts in terms of shopping dollars spent.

“Though there are several retailers making the decision to close on Thanksgiving Day, enough consumers have demonstrated that they will shop on the holiday to make it worthwhile for most major retailers to open and capture those sales,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “The value of getting a deal will always be a draw for a large segment of consumers. Now, retailers need to figure out how to get the attention of those shoppers, whether it is through timing of promotion, expanded store hours, or online flexibility and convenience.”

More than one in six holiday shoppers plan to wait until Black Friday sales to begin to their holiday gift shopping*. Indeed, looking at factors driving where consumers plan to shop this holiday season**, special sale price (62 percent) and overall value for the price (58 percent) lead the pack, but the strongest upward trajectory goes to free shipping offers—52 percent say such offers influence where they shop for holiday gifts, up from 44 percent in 2014. Additionally, three in ten holiday shoppers in America say they plan to buy all of their holiday gifts on sale this year.

“The data shows that holiday shoppers will go to one or two, maximum three stores on these big promotional shopping days. Retailers who want to connect with their customers and capture those sales will want to open on Thanksgiving, even for limited hours,” added Andy Mantis, executive vice president of Checkout Tracking at NPD Group. “This dilemma over whether or not to be open on Thanksgiving Thursday didn’t exist until recently. But now that it’s here, retailers have no choice but to figure out how to play in this space. With more than 25 percent of Black Friday two-day spend going into Thanksgiving, if you’re not in it, you risk losing customers and traffic.”

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / October 2016 Omnibus
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Annual Holiday Purchase Intentions Study

Checkout Tracking provides detailed information on consumer buying behavior, based on receipts for both online and brick-and-mortar retail purchases from the same consumers over time. Checkout Tracking delivers precise category, brand, and item-level purchase detail linked to buyers and their demographics, useful for analyzing competitive market baskets and identifying purchase patterns. Information is collected from more than 50,000 consumers from NPD’s receipt-harvesting mobile phone app and the scanning of more than 4 million in-boxes for e-receipts through Slice Intelligence.

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Janine Marshall
The NPD Group
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