NPD: More Shoppers To Hit Stores Thanksgiving Weekend

The number of consumers waiting for Black Friday weekend to start their holiday shopping is expected to rise this year, according to a recent report from The NPD Group.

The 2014 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey found that 18% of shoppers said they plan to start holiday shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend, up from 13% in 2013. Among the consumers planning to begin their shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, 12% plan to shop on Black Friday, while the remaining 6% plan to do their shopping on Saturday and/or Sunday.

“Consumers are anticipating the Thanksgiving weekend door-buster deals and other savings incentives, and as a result of their proven interest in special sales and deals, retailers last year began to open on Thanksgiving Day, with more stores jumping on this new tradition this year,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Cohen cautions that the expected jump in shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend does not mean retailers will see significant sales gains.

“How many more family members and friends do consumers need to shop for just because the stores decided to open earlier? How much more money do they have in their holiday budget because the stores started promoting earlier? This year we’ll see more shopping happening in the Thanksgiving zone, a deeper lull following, and finally a mad dash at the end for the last-minute shoppers,” he added.

The NPD survey also found that 16% of consumers had already started their holiday shopping, versus 15% last year, with an additional 19% stating they plan to start shopping before Thanksgiving, compared to 22% in 2013.

Nearly 60% of consumers plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year, making online the leading channel for holiday shopping. Women are more likely than men to shop online (62% versus 57%), as are those with children in the household.

According to NPD, Online is leading the way for consumers through all phases of their purchases, from pre-shopping homework to the checkout counter. Two-thirds of those who do pre-purchase research claim that they will utilize online research to learn more about products before making a holiday purchase, topping consumer reviews and television ads, among others. In addition to special sale prices and overall value, consumers list convenience and free shipping as top purchase drivers, tying into the online appeal.

“Online has truly become the place for consumers to start and finish their holiday shopping. Last year we saw a mad dash at the end, with many consumers disappointed because gifts were delayed due to so much last minute online shopping. Hopefully stores and shippers learned from that mistake, and will be more prepared for the even bigger crush to come closer to the holidays this year,” said Cohen. “Until retailers drive the consumers back into the stores, online will continue to grow at a faster pace than traditional store shopping. The convenience and bargains offered online are too plentiful for the consumer to pass up.”