Thanksgiving 2011 by the Numbers

Before Thanksgiving celebrations with friends and family shift into full gear, check out some of these surprising and impressive figures on Turkey Day business and trade.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to remind ourselves of all the things for which we’re grateful while eating so much turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pie that we pass into a food coma.

Of course, Thanksgiving season is also an important time for the nation’s businesses, including retailers, transportation companies and the agricultural industry.

Here we look at some of the impressive and perhaps surprising statistics that show just how bountiful Thanksgiving really is.


116.7 Million
Number of households in the United States, each a potential gathering place for Thanksgiving celebrants
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Census

13.3 Lbs.
Average amount of turkey consumed by a typical American in 2009
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012

248 Million
Number of turkeys expected to be raised in the U.S. in 2011, 2 percent more than in 2010
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

7.11 Billion Lbs.
Total weight of turkeys produced in the U.S. last year, valued at $4.37 billion
Source: Ibid.

46.5 Billion
Preliminary estimate of the number of turkeys to be raised this year in Minnesota, the country’s largest turkey production state, followed by North Carolina (30 million), Arkansas (30 million) and Missouri (18 million)
Source: Ibid.

$5 Billion
Estimated 2011 receipts to farmers for turkey sales, up 15.3 percent from the previous year
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

$7.8 Million
Value of U.S. imports of live turkeys in the first seven months of 2011, the vast majority (99.7 percent) from Canada
Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Statistics

$3.6 Million
Value of the U.S. trade deficit in live turkeys for the first seven months of the year, down from $3.9 million in the same period in 2010
Source: Ibid.

Retail cost per pound for a frozen whole turkey in December 2010
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012

750 Million Lbs.
Forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2011, led by Wisconsin (430 million pounds) and Massachusetts (210 million)
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

2.4 Billion Lbs.
Total weight of sweet potatoes produced in the U.S. in 2010, led by North Carolina with 972 million pounds
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service — Quick Stats

$41.7 million
Value of the U.S. sweet potato surplus in 2011
Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Statistics


42.5 Million
Number of Americans expected to travel at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving weekend, up 4 percent from last year
Source: AAA Thanksgiving 2011 Travel Forecast

38.2 Million
Number of travelers planning to drive to their destination, up 4 percent from last year, constituting 90 percent of all Thanksgiving travelers
Source: Ibid.

Average price per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline, about 50¢ higher than during Thanksgiving 2010
Source: Ibid.

23.2 Million
Number of travelers expected to fly on U.S. airlines in the 12-day period from November 18 to November 29, down 2 percent from 2010
Source: Air Transport Association

Lowest round-trip rate, on average, among the top 40 U.S. air routes, 20 percent higher than in 2010
Source: AAA

Percentage of travelers forecast to use non-air or motor vehicle transportation (such as bus, trains and watercraft) this Thanksgiving weekend, up 14.7 percent from 2010
Source: Ibid.

706 Miles
Average distance Americans will travel this Thanksgiving holiday, down 13.5 percent from last year
Source: Ibid.

Median amount expected to be spent on travel this Thanksgiving, 12 percent higher than last year
Source: Ibid.

Percentage of holiday spending expected to be used on fuel and transportation, the highest share, followed by shopping (18 percent); food and beverages; (18 percent); accommodations (16 percent); and entertainment and recreation (12 percent)
Source: Ibid.


152 Million
Number of Americans planning to visit stores during Black Friday weekend (the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving), up from 138 million last year
Source: National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey

Percentage of consumers who plan to begin their holiday shopping in November
Source: NRF’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey

Average amount consumers spent during Black Friday weekend in 2010, with total spending reaching 45 billion
Source: NRF’s 2010 Black Friday Weekend Survey

Percentage of shoppers who follow advertising circulars throughout the holiday season to keep apprised of deals, while 31.7 percent tune into retailers’ commercials and 23.1 percent rely on coupon websites
Source: NRF’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey

Percentage of retailers planning to send an e-mail to their customers about Black Friday deals, up from 80 percent last year, while 73.7 percent will use their Facebook pages for customer outreach, up from 57.1 percent last year
Source: Ibid.

Percentage of retailers expecting their online sales to grow at least 15 percent or more over the prior year’s holiday spending
Source:’s 2011 eHoliday Study

Percentage of online retailers planning promotions for Thanksgiving day, with 78.4 percent also planning special offers for Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving)
Source: NRF and

75.9 Million
Number of employees with Internet access who plan to shop online while at work, representing 58.4 percent of total workers
Source: Ibid.

In observance of Thanksgiving, IMT will be shuttered through the rest of this week. We’ll return immediately after the holiday weekend with our Weekly Industry Crib Sheet. Until then, we wish all our readers a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


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