Boost for Grocers as Thanksgiving Shoppers Set New Records

New data from NRF and Placer.ai affirm strength of the retail sector
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Placer.ai Thanksgiving chart
Image source: Placer.ai

Grocers looking to keep the holiday season merry and bright can take a cue from the early results of this year’s Thanksgiving occasion. Now that most of the leftovers have been eaten up, data from two sources show that the grocery channel fared well this year.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has shared its sales data for the long Thanksgiving holiday, showing a record 200.4 million consumers shopped over the five-day period, up from 196.7 million last year. Grocery stores and supermarkets were the second top destination for the time spanning Nov. 23-27, attracting 42% of shoppers and just behind the 44% who went online to make purchases.

[Read more: "4 Things to Know About Shoppers’ Holiday Spending Plans"]

“The five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday represents some of the busiest shopping days of the year and reflects the continued resilience of consumers and strength of the economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Shoppers exceeded our expectations with a robust turnout. Retailers large and small were prepared to deliver safe, convenient and affordable shopping experiences with the products and services consumers needed, and at great prices.”

On that point about affordability, NRF’s data highlighted shoppers’ ongoing quest for value as inflation remains higher than usual. According to the group’s findings, 55% of consumers’ purchases during Thanksgiving weekend were specifically driven by sales and promotions, up from 52% in 2022. About a third reported that they were motivated to buy something they were hesitant about by a limited time sale or promotion.

NRF data
Image source: National Retail Federation

Matt Pavich, senior director of innovation and strategy at retail pricing optimization company Revionics, weighed in on NRF’s findings and what it means for the closing weeks of this year. "The 2023 holiday season will be an interesting one for retailers and consumers alike. Consumers will benefit from deflation after spending the past two holiday seasons managing budgets in an inflationary environment. Consumers will benefit from better prices and promotions, and also from the rise of private label offerings to find more value,” he observed.

Meanwhile, location intelligence and foot traffic analytics firm Placer.ai tracked habits ahead of Thanksgiving weekend, when consumers were preparing to make or serve their annual feast. According to Placer.ai, “Turkey Wednesday” remains the single busiest day of the year for many grocers, with grocers drawing 92.5% more daily visits on Nov. 22 than they did during the six-week period leading up to that pivotal date. That’s up from 87.4% in 2022 and 86.4% in 2021, when COVID-19 variants were circulating.

Placer.ai Thanksgiving retailers
Image source: Placer.ai

Placer.ai’s data also underscores the appeal of traditional grocery stores, which continue to lead in Turkey Wednesday visits. Discount stores experienced an uptick in pre-Thanksgiving traffic, but conventional supermarkets like Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, H-E-B and Meijer got a lion’s share of visitors. 

“Though value grocers and limited assortment chains have done exceptional well this year, on the day before Thanksgiving people seek out one-stop-shops where they can quickly grab everything they need for the holiday,” observed Placer.ai’s Lila Margalit in a blog post. 

X
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds