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. If you’re curious about the numbers behind these events and how to get the most out of these days, read on.

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2022 key holiday shopping dates:
  • Black Friday: Friday, November 25. Kicking off at the start of Thanksgiving weekend, it’s the traditional start to the holiday shopping season.
  • Small Business Saturday: Saturday, November 26. American Express created this holiday to encourage people to shop small and support local businesses.
  • Cyber Monday: Monday, November 28. It’s another newer shopping holiday designed to boost spending with e-commerce and online retailers.

Thanksgiving weekend shopping breakdown by day

Black Friday

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. This year, a Bankrate survey found that 74 percent of holiday shoppers are planning to shop online, more than the 67 percent who plan to shop in person (respondents could select more than one response).

Some people get so excited to start holiday shopping that they can’t wait until Friday, and so — controversially — some retailers open their doors early to allow for Thanksgiving shopping. In 2021, nearly 11 percent of all Thanksgiving weekend shopping was done on Thanksgiving Day itself, according to the National Retail Federation.

Small Business Saturday

Originally created in 2010 by American Express to funnel holiday shopping dollars to small businesses, Small Business Saturday has grown to take its ranks as a major shopping holiday over the years. In 2021, about 51 million people shopped in-store on Small Business Saturday, versus 56.4 million online, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, Bankrate’s survey found that more shoppers say they are likely to shop on Small Business Saturday than Black Friday (59 percent vs. 56 percent, respectively).

Supporting your community is made even sweeter when you get rewarded for it. Wherever you plan to shop, be sure you’re earning credit card rewards on Small Business Saturday.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is a 2005 invention of the National Retail Federation. The NRF noticed that online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving tend to be higher, likely because people were browsing at work while away from pesky kids and slow home internet connections. In 2021, the NRF found that about 20 percent of all Thanksgiving weekend shopping (which Cyber Monday is now rolled into) was done on Cyber Monday itself, and a full 79 percent of those purchases were indeed made online.

Thanksgiving weekend shopping by the numbers

Despite retailers’ intentions of enticing shoppers with new “holidays” like Amazon Prime Day, nothing has ever been as successful as Thanksgiving weekend. According to Deloitte Insights, about 49 percent of all holiday shoppers plan to do at least some of their gift-buying over Thanksgiving weekend in 2022. Black Friday in particular has generated increasing sales year after year.

People have a lot of reasons for participating in Thanksgiving weekend shopping specifically, versus any other time before the holidays. It’s a family tradition for a lot of people, and many are ready to get back to it after disrupted family gatherings over the past few years. And with average discounts predicted to be especially steep on certain items like electronics (27 percent) and toys (22 percent), it’s an especially good way to save money at a time when inflation is running high.

According to Deloitte Insights, some items will be especially popular this year among holiday shoppers:

  • Toys, hobbies and apparel (77% of shoppers)
  • Electronics (57%)
  • Food and beverage (7%)
  • Pet (50%)
  • Health and wellness (56%)
  • Home and kitchen (49%)

New for 2022, gift cards are becoming increasingly popular, with about 76% of shoppers planning on including them in their holiday gift-giving plan. The average shopper plans to spend $252 on gift cards alone.

Here were the most popular toys for children in 2021:

Rank Boys Girls
Source: National Retail Federation
1 LEGO Barbie
2 Cars and trucks Doll
3 Hotwheels LOL dolls
4 Playstation LEGO
5 Video games Apple products/smartphone

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. Otherwise, you might end up somewhere in the hinterlands while everyone else crosses the finish line.

Here are top tips from experts about how to plan your Thanksgiving shopping:

  • Create a budget: It’s easy to spend yourself into a debt trap during the holidays. To avoid that, sit down with your budget (whether you budget regularly or do a one-time budget list) and figure out how much you can afford to spend.
  • Increase your income: If you’re wishing you had a bit more room in your budget, look for ways to earn quick cash, like selling things you no longer need, starting a side hustle, or even asking for more hours at your work or getting a temporary part-time job (bonus points if it’s with a retailer you’d already be shopping with).
  • Make a list and plan your purchases: While it’s nice to shower an especially-loved one with gifts, you want to make sure to leave room for others too. Before you start shopping, it’s a good idea to plan what you’ll be buying, and for whom. This also allows you to use price trackers like CamelCamelCamel, which help you get the most for your money.
  • Earn rewards with credit cards: The best credit cards offer rewards that can pay you back for some of your holiday shopping. Just be sure to pay your bill in full at the end of your billing cycle. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 holiday shoppers in 2022 plan to take on credit card debt to afford gifts, according to a survey by Bankrate.
  • Shop online: About two-thirds of people plan to shop online over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend this year, Deloitte found. This allows you to avoid crowds and cover ground with more retailers than you’d be able to do by driving around in person.
  • Shop early: This year, half of holiday shoppers plan to start their shopping by Halloween, Bankrate found. Though you might associate sales with Thanksgiving weekend, at least starting your list and doing some initial research before then can help you save money and stress.
  • Use loyalty programs: Chances are you’ll be spending a good chunk of money, and you can recoup some of that cost by using store loyalty programs and other discount sources.

FAQ

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