Post-Thanksgiving Shopping Results and Trends

Chitra Balasubramanian
Chitra Balasubramanian
Head of Business Analytics

What did 6 fewer shopping days (post-Thanksgiving) do to November retail performance this year?  Read more to find out!

If the past Thanksgiving weekend’s retail performance is any kind of predictor for the rest of the 2013 shopping season, then things look bright for retailers who are ready to execute in-store!

This November (as compared to a year ago), saw 2.8% less foot traffic but more impactful shopping trips as evidenced by an average sales gain of 1.0%. 

The 1.0% average uptick in sales was driven by improved conversion, average transaction value (ATV), and items per transaction (IPT). We are seeing strong buying activity from shoppers who make it into the retail store. Though online retailers are starting to achieve close to “get it now” satisfaction in many product categories (it can be argued they are not quite there in specialty retail categories), consumers are continuing to seek the ability to browse department floors and touch products before swiping their credit cards. In addition, the proliferation of lifestyle centers and other environments designed to engage a broader section of the consumer population can be seen as factors that are helping to offset potential traffic declines due to online and mobile commerce channel options.

Despite a slight drop of 1.1% in traffic for the Thanksgiving weekend (Thursday – Sunday), sales held up strong, improving by an average of 6.4% over the same period last year. Perhaps this was due to determined shoppers’ awareness of the 6 fewer shopping days until Christmas or the once in a lifetime collision of Thanksgiving with Hannukah (read a previous blog post on this phenomenon). It could also be due to strong retail execution as reflected by a 2.1 percentage point average improvement in conversion. Either way, the sales improvement is a positive message for retailers going into the December shopping season. Continuing to focus on driving execution with the physical store will be key for retailers looking to finish strong this year. If you are a retailer, be sure to check out some great tips from my colleague, Shelley Kohan, RetailNext VP of Retail Consulting here:

I don’t know about you, but one of the burning questions I had when I heard about the increased opening of retail doors on Thanksgiving Day this year was whether this would drive more shoppers into stores on that day. For stores that were opened this year and last year from Thursday through Sunday, RetailNext did a quick peak into whether there were any shifts in terms of which day of the long weekend people decided to go shopping.

Here’s what we found:

  • Black Friday was relatively unchanged in terms of its allocation of weekend traffic, with just a slight increase of 0.4 percentage points. 
  • However, there was a nearly 3 percentage point increase in the percentage of weekend traffic represented on Thanksgiving Day. 
  • The majority of the shift came from a decline in Sunday traffic, though Saturday also experienced a 1.4 percentage point drop in the percentage of weekend traffic that shopped on that day.

Move over turkey. It looks like we can officially add shopping to the list of activities enjoyed by Americans on Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah!) this year.