Never mind football and turkey. Thanksgiving shopping has begun

NEW YORK—Thanksgiving has traditionally boiled down to three “Fs”: food, football and family.  Many Americans can now add a fourth F to the mix, the “frenzy” that comes with holiday shopping.

We’re not just talking Black Friday. More and more folks are shopping in person on Thanksgiving Day, with major retailers such as Best Buy, Macy’s, Sears, Target and Toys r Us, all opening their doors even before the last of the turkey has gotten cold.

And online shopping is off to a brisk early start. Shoppers spent $336 million between the hours of midnight and 11AM ET on Thanksgiving, according to Adobe Digital Insights. And Adobe is forecasting Thanksgiving Day online sales to hit $2 billion for the first time, a 15.6% year-over-year growth increase. A record $820 million is coming from mobile devices.

Adobe added that half the people it surveyed expect to shop after 5PM on Thanksgiving.

In all, an estimated 137.4 million consumers plan to or are considering shopping during the holiday weekend, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Twenty-one percent of the weekend shoppers plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day itself, nearly the same as the 22% who did so last year.

Still, not every retailer is comfortable with the idea. There’s been a recent tug of war over whether retailers should be open on Thanksgiving Day, with some deciding to close their doors this year to boost employee morale, score points with consumers who dislike the practice, and preserve the dwindling sales power of Black Friday.

Tennessean Tom Alberty told The (Clarksville, Tenn) Leaf-Chronicle last week, that he doesn't like shopping on the holiday because it takes away from family time. "You have 300 days to shop throughout the year. Why do you pick Thanksgiving?"

The Mall of America stayed shuttered this holiday. CBL & Associates Properties Inc. planned to close 72 of its 89 malls this Thanksgiving after keeping them open the last three years, and electronics chain hhgregg closed all of its 220 stores.

But most major retailers decided to continue this newest tradition of kicking off the holiday shopping marathon right after – or even before – the Thanksgiving feast. Toys R Us, for instance, opened its doors at 5 PM on the holiday and will keep its stores open for 30 hours straight.

“One of the reasons we opened our stores on Thanksgiving . . . is there’s just a lot of people that enjoy that as part of their Thanksgiving tradition,’’ says Toys R Us’ CEO Dave Brandon. “And if they want to shop . . .we want to be open and available to them.’’

The Southern California-based Hispanic big box retailer Curacao opened its dozen stores on Thanksgiving for the first time, running a four hour sale from 8AM to noon, an accomodation for timewise for its shoppers and staff; it will reopen on Black Friday at 4AM. Employees came to work on a voluntary basis. "It turned out to be smashing success," says Ramesh Swamy, an executive vice president at the company, who said there were decent lines of shoppers right at 8AM. Top selling categories included electronics, furniture and toys. "We're going to do it again. Everybody else zigged and we zagged. It was a very non-traditional opening."

When it comes to online, Adobe is reporting that a record $27.2 billion has already been spent since the beginning of November, a 4.28% increase compared to last year.

Entering the Thanksgiving weekend, supplies were already low for hot selling electronics such as Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, New Nintendo 3DS Super Mario and Sony’s PlayStation VR bundle, as well as Hatchimals toys. Other early online bestsellers include Samsung 4K TVs, iPads, Apple MacBooks, electronic scooters, vehicles for kids, Lego sets and Paw Patrol toys.

“We expect to see even more items out of stock in the coming days,” says Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at director at Adobe Digital Insights.

That said, Adobe says that products are less likely to be out of stock this year than last year. Out of stock notifications are at 6.4% versus 11% a year ago.

Walmart is looking to quiet fears that some popular products will be out of stock. The retailer tweeted out that “Not only will customers find great prices on the Black Friday items they want, Walmart secured substantial availability of these products.” Walmart said it has stocked up with more than 1.5 million TVs, nearly 2 milion tablets and computers and 3 million video games.

Accoding to Adobe, Walmart is leading the “social buzz” with a 35% share of Black Friday “mentions”, Adobe Social reports, above Target (34%), Kohl’s (11%), Toys R Us (7%) and Sam’s Club (4%).

Contributing: Charisse Jones, USA TODAY

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Tech Columnist @edbaig Twitter


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment