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How Grocers Should Be Merchandising for Thanksgiving

New Shipt survey reveals shoppers' most forgotten holiday items
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
a sign above a store
An end cap merchandised with Thanksgiving essentials at Detwiler's Farm Market in Palmetto, Fla.

Food retailers looking for merchandising tips this holiday season have a weapon in the form of a new survey from Shipt.

The company has published an inaugural Thanksgiving Most Forgotten List, a list of grocery and household items that people most often forget or purchase last-minute as they shop and prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. The shoppable list is based on a survey of 2,100 Americans and proprietary Shipt data. Cranberries top the list as the most forgotten Thanksgiving item. 

Other top grocery and home decor items respondents have forgotten the most include:

  • Fragrant spices (such as thyme) (30%)
  • Napkins (23%)
  • Beverages (21%)
  • Pumpkin spices (20%)
  • Pie crust (20%)
  • Potatoes (17%)
  • Plates (16%)
  • Table and autumn-specific decor (15%)
  • Candles (14%)

In addition to forgetting items, Shipt found that in 2019 and 2020, consumers purchased key products at the last-minute when preparing for Thanksgiving. The following are the top five items Shipt users purchased last-minute in the days leading up to Thanksgiving:

  • Sweet rolls
  • Cream cheese 
  • Fried onions
  • Butter
  • Pie crust

“There’s a lot to juggle when preparing to entertain for Thanksgiving,” said Rina Hurst, Shipt’s chief business officer and holiday shopping expert. “We know that with all of the chaos some crucial cooking, baking or decor items can be forgotten when needed the most. The Thanksgiving Most Forgotten List is our way to help consumers plan ahead or purchase last-minute items as they need to ensure their holidays are full of joy.”

Additional highlights from the Shipt Thanksgiving survey include:

  • ‘Tis the Season: Over half of survey respondents (61%) admitted to having forgotten to buy a food or seasoning ingredient for their Thanksgiving meal.
  • Not the Top Chef: One in 10 claim that they swore off making the next year’s meal after realizing they forgot a key ingredient or item.
  • Fake it Don’t Bake It: Over half of Americans (52%) claim to purchase bread loaves or rolls ready-made rather than banking from scratch.
  • Bottoms Up: One item that most don’t forget? Alcohol. Only 14% of Americans have forgotten the booze.

According to a survey this week from LendingTree, a record percentage of Americans plan to host Thanksgiving dinner this year. Nearly half — 47% — expect guests, up from 41% in 2020 and 33% in 2019. Consumers expect to spend an average of $391.60 to host Thanksgiving, down 18% from 2020. Millennial hosts expect to pay the most — $461.20, on average — while Baby Boomers expect to spend the least — $232.40, on average. 

Founded in 2014, Shipt is an independently operated, wholly owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Target Corp., which No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 1,900 locations. The Birmingham, Ala.-based Shipt continues to expand its reach, adding more than 30 retailer partners in 2021 and tripling its base of shoppers. The company delivers from more than 130 retailers, and covers roughly 80% of U.S. households in about 5,000 cities.

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