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Some popular days for holiday shopping have turned into holidays in their own right, and none more so than Black Friday and its compatriots, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Over the years, retailers have helped craft these into huge events in which most of the holiday-shopping population participate. According to Bankrate’s Small Business Saturday survey, 81 percent of shoppers will shop on at least one of these shopping days during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
If you’re curious about the numbers behind these events and how to get the most out of these days, read on.
Key Thanksgiving weekend shopping statistics
2023 key holiday shopping dates
Because the holiday shopping starts on Thanksgiving Day and lasts all weekend long, shoppers have a choice of which shopping day best suits them. Different shopping days are dedicated to different sales and events. Take a look at the different holiday shopping days and what sales or spending areas they focus on.
- Black Friday
- Friday, November 24. Kicking off at the start of Thanksgiving weekend, it’s the traditional start to the holiday shopping season
- Small Business Saturday
- Saturday, November 25. American Express created this holiday to encourage people to shop small and support local businesses
- Cyber Monday
- Monday, November 26. It’s another newer shopping holiday designed to boost spending with e-commerce and online retailers
Always on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Although stampedes have (in)famously characterized the holiday in years past, the pandemic and rising inflation have combined forces to tamp that down.
Some people get so excited to start holiday shopping that they can’t wait until Friday. So some retailers open their doors early to allow for Thanksgiving shopping. In 2022, 29 percent of shoppers chose to shop on Thanksgiving Day itself during the holiday shopping weekend, based on National Retail Federation (NRF) data. Black Friday still rings in as the favorite day to shop, accounting for 81 percent of shoppers braving the masses and sales that weekend.
Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday was originally created in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to spend their holiday shopping dollars at small or local businesses. Since then, it has firmly taken root, growing into a major shopping holiday over the years.
In 2022, 63.4 million people shopped in-store on Small Business Saturday versus 58 million online, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, Bankrate’s Small Business Saturday survey found that more shoppers say they are likely to shop on Small Business Saturday than Black Friday (61 percent vs. 56 percent, respectively).
Encouraging shoppers to choose small businesses has a direct impact on the local economy. According to American Express, every dollar spent at local stores keeps $0.68 in the local economy. Take a look at shopping statistics on Small Business Saturday to know the best times and ways to shop or to know how to prepare as a small business.
The best credit cards offer rewards that can help you earn cash back or travel rewards for some of your holiday shopping. Just be sure to pay your bill in full at the end of your billing cycle to avoid interest charges.
Cyber Monday is a term the National Retail Federation created in 2005. The NRF noticed that online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving tend to be higher than other non-holiday workdays. In 2022, the NRF found that 50.6 percent of all Thanksgiving weekend shopping (which Cyber Monday is now rolled into) was done on Cyber Monday itself, and a full 77 percent of those people made their purchases online.
Many people choose to shop on Cyber Monday because they can get major deals on items while shopping from the convenience of their own homes. Retailers have incentive to cut their prices because they see such a huge uptick in sales during the Cyber Monday event.
Keep in mind: Based on Bankrate's recent Small Business Saturday survey, 44 percent of holiday shoppers are making plans to shop online at small businesses and 54 percent at large businesses this year. About 51 percent plan to shop in the brick-and-mortar small business itself, while 54 percent of holiday shoppers plan to shop in person at a large business.
Thanksgiving weekend shopping by the numbers
Despite shopping holidays like Amazon Prime Day popping up, nothing has ever been as successful as Thanksgiving weekend. People have a lot of reasons for participating in Thanksgiving weekend shopping, specifically versus any other time before the holidays. Many people go to the stores with their holiday gift lists in hand, or they’re out shopping for holiday food and decor to brighten their neighborhoods.
People flocking to the stores on Thanksgiving weekend are usually looking for deep discounts. According to Adobe, the average discounts are expected to be especially steep this year at 35 percent. Adobe predicts certain items to be deeply discounted, such as toys (35 percent), electronics (30 percent) and clothing (25 percent). These record-high discounts are especially welcome during this time when inflation continues to stay high.
According to the 2022 Deloitte Insights survey, customers expected to spend $934 online versus $494 in-store in 2021. Some items that were especially popular:
- Clothing (77% of shoppers)
- Toys and hobbies (77%)
- Gift cards (76%)
- Food and beverage (70%)
- Electronics (57%)
- Home and kitchen (49%)
- Health and wellness (7%)
New for 2023, holiday shoppers expect to spend $300 on gift cards this year compared to $252 in 2022, according to the 2023 Deloitte holiday survey. The survey also notes 75 percent of gift card shoppers expect higher prices this year.
Data from the National Retail Federation’s holiday spending survey confirms gift cards are a popular item, with a hefty 55 percent of holiday shoppers wishing for them.
Here are the most popular gifts in 2023, according to the National Retail Federation:
|Gift idea||% of holiday shoppers who want the gift|
|Clothing or accessories||49%|
|Books, video games or other media||28%|
|Personal care or beauty gifts||25%|
Source: National Retail Federation
Tips for shopping this Thanksgiving weekend
Sure, you can rev up your engine to start shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend. But just like any other race, it’s best to have a plan in mind. Here are top tips from experts about how to plan your Thanksgiving shopping:
- Create a budget: To avoid overspending, sit down with your budget (whether you budget regularly or do a one-time budget list) and figure out how much you can spend for the holidays.
- Increase your income: Add more room to your budget by earning quick cash. For example, you could sell items you no longer need, start a side hustle, ask for more hours at work or get a seasonal part-time job.
- Make a list and plan your purchases: Before you start shopping, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Making a list and sticking to it can ensure you don’t overspend.
- Pay your credit card bills in full: According to Bankrate’s Early Holiday Shopping Survey, 53 percent of people plan to use their credit card to make holiday purchases, but the majority (34 percent) will pay their balance in full to avoid interest.
- Shop online: Shopping online during Thanksgiving weekend allows you to avoid crowds and cover more retailers than you could if you were to travel to brick-and-mortar stores.
- Shop early: This year, half of holiday shoppers plan to start their shopping by Halloween, Bankrate found in its Early Holiday Shopping Survey. Though you might associate sales with Thanksgiving weekend, at least starting your list and doing some research can help you save money
- Use loyalty programs: You may be planning to spend a good chunk of money on Thanksgiving weekend. You can recoup some of that cost by using store loyalty programs and other discount sources.
Frequently asked questions
The name “Black Friday” was coined by Philadelphia police officers in the 1950s to describe the rush of people shopping, according to History Channel.
The deals that retailers offer between Black Friday and Cyber Monday are largely the same. Which day you buy depends on whether you prefer to do your shopping in-store or online. For some things like major appliances or other purchases that aren’t as easy to ship, Black Friday may be a better time to buy.
In 2023, Adobe predicts that Americans will spend $221.8 billion on shopping during Thanksgiving weekend.