As shoppers browse stores this Thanksgiving, retailers like Walmart and others are offering greater variety while addressing supply and price concerns.
It’s not just the waning of the pandemic that’s making this Thanksgiving a different one. Retailers are responding to other market circumstances with offerings and promotions that take into account the wants and needs of 2022 shoppers.
Of course, inflation is on the minds of many consumers as Thanksgiving approaches. To that end, grocers have been touting deals and, in the case of retailers like Aldi and Walmart, pledging to keep prices for the traditional holiday meal at 2019 and 2021 levels, respectively. Walmart also announced that shoppers can take advantage of savings for “all of their holiday meals” through Dec. 26.
In addition, food retailers are conveying the message about turkey availability in the wake of bird flu outbreaks that have hampered the supply chain in some production areas. Michigan-based Meijer assured shoppers its cases are stocked with turkeys, but also suggested that the early bird gets the, well, bird. "We feel confident in our inventory of turkey and are excited to offer that Thanksgiving staple for family gatherings across the Midwest," said Josh Potts, Meijer’s poultry buyer. "Our highest priority is bringing value and quality to our customers this holiday season."
Beyond macroeconomic factors of supply and price, retailers are changing their Thanksgiving assortment and merchandising approaches to reflect other trends. For example, although grocers have been adding more choices for years to accommodate different types of gatherings and eating preferences, consumers’ newfound penchant for cooking is evident in different options.
“The past couple of years have shown us that how our customers gather during the holidays is changing, with celebrations big and small. To best serve our customers all the ways they holiday, we offer an expanded selection of turkey offerings, from traditional whole turkeys of all sizes to bone-in breasts, boneless roasts and smoked turkeys,” said John Laney, EVP, food, for Walmart U.S. in a recent post.
“We also expect that more Gen Z customers will be first-time turkey buyers this year, and our Gen Z customers like having easy, convenient meal options, Laney continued. “For the holidays, we expanded our selection of easier-to-manage roasts, like boneless turkey breasts, and our selection of grab-and-go meal options, like ready-to-make sides and freshly baked desserts.”
Retailers are helping newer cooks navigate Thanksgiving cooking in other ways. The perennially-popular Butterball Turkey Talk-line is now live, and Butterball, LLC upped its how-to game this year by sharing more tips, photos and videos on how to pick, thaw and roast a turkey. Meanwhile, the New York-based Wegmans chain posted a video on its website that shows how to cook and carve a turkey.
There has also been a move to add more dishes to the Thanksgiving table. Meijer projects it will sell 50,000 roasts and over one million pounds of hams this Thanksgiving. "We expect to sell more hams than any Thanksgiving before," shared Ben Lesneski, a meat buyer for Meijer. "We know our customers' tastes are always evolving. We're happy to have the options for our turkey purists, as well as those who seek different savory options in their Thanksgiving spread."
Consumers’ taste for plant-based options is showing up on Thanksgiving 2022 promos as well. Wegmans curated a vegan holiday menu for customers in its website that includes recipe like roasted vegetable Wellington. Many retailers are spotlighting tofu-based turkeys and other alt-meat options; Meijer anticipates selling nearly 10,000 pounds of soy-based protein during the week of Thanksgiving.
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.Privately owned Meijeroperates over 400 supercenters, neighborhood markets and Express locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin and is No. 20 on The PG 100. Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S.is No. 24 and Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans is No. 34.