Are You the Average Thanksgiving Consumer?

This Thanksgiving the average consumer will probably be shopping online on Friday for apparel items at retailers where they already shop frequently. Does that sound like you?
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Thanksgiving is about a week away. This is the holiday when people get excited at the prospect of eating a chicken that gets stuffed into a duck, which then gets stuffed into a turkey. This is also the holiday when people stab and shoot each other when they can't get what they want to buy. So let's just all agree then that Thanksgiving is about consumption -in terms of food and in terms of buying things. And consumption, particularly the latter kind, is fascinating to us at the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research. No surprise then that we see Thanksgiving as a fantastic opportunity to research consumer behavior.

Last year, we answered a few questions about Thanksgiving that you might have been curious about. For instance, about half of all consumers can't imagine Thanksgiving dinner without turkey. And a similar number reported that they planned to take a nap after Thanksgiving dinner, making it the most popular after-dinner activity. This year, we ran another survey and just published the results. Here are a few of the biggest findings from this year.

First, more and more people will be doing more and more of their shopping online. In fact, our survey showed that 83% of those who will be shopping will be shopping both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, and an additional 12% will be shopping only online. This trend toward shopping online is not surprising at all. One Black Friday experience a few years ago was all it took to convince me that the frenzy of shopping in stores was not for me, and it seems an increasing number of consumers are reaching the same conclusion.


On a related note, the terms "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" seem to be losing their meaning. It used to be that people shopped in stores on Friday and online on Monday. However, when we asked consumers when they planned to shop, they said they planned to do more shopping online than in stores on both days. In fact, more people planned to shop online on Black Friday than on Cyber Monday! Add to this that many online and brick-and-mortar retailers are planning to start Thanksgiving sales well before Friday, and it really doesn't seem that we're talking about any one particular day of shopping anymore. Black Friday is not just about Friday or about brick-and-mortar retailers anymore.


Another big finding was that electronics were no longer the most popular category of items that people planned to purchase. Rather, apparel beat out electronics to claim the top spot. This could be because there doesn't seem to be any flashy new tech gadget that everyone is lusting after this year. There's no new gaming console, new smartphone models have been out for a while, and there has been no major development in the world of televisions and computers. It's kinda boring in the electronics world this year.


In addition to asking people what they were planning to shop for, we also asked them where they planned to do their shopping. It turns out that a majority of consumers will be shopping at places they already frequent. Moreover, about a third will be shopping at places where they frequently shop just around the holidays. So consumers plan to shop at the retailers with whom they're already familiar. After all, when you're shopping for that perfect sweater, you don't want to be figuring out where the sweaters are going to be, how they're going to fit, and whether you'll find one in a style you like. You don't have time for all that! There's a turducken waiting!


So this Thanksgiving the average consumer will probably be shopping online on Friday for apparel items at retailers where they already shop frequently. Does that sound like you?

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The Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research receives funding from KPMG. However, research activities are determined by the interests of the Institute's researchers and trending topics.

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