Industry Market Trends

By the Numbers: Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Nov 21, 2012

In addition to giving thanks and feasting, Thanksgiving weekend is also when people start to shop like it's a sport. Between Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, sales during this period gives many businesses something to be thankful for each year.

In the centuries since settlers of Plymouth Colony held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, the legacy of Thanksgiving has survived. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday in 1863, and Franklin Roosevelt later declared the holiday should always be celebrated on the second-to-last Thursday of November to encourage more time for holiday shopping. This legacy has also lasted: Today, the period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday is crucially important for many businesses.

Warm up to these fascinating statistics behind the business of Turkey Day and the days immediately following, when many people try to make a dent in their holiday shopping lists.



Number of grocery stores in the United States, which are expected to be extremely busy around Thanksgiving as people prepare for their meals of turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau's County Business Patterns)

$12.1 Million

Value of U.S. imports of live turkeys during the January-July 2012 period, with 99.8 percent coming from Canada

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Statistics)

$9.1 Million

U.S. trade deficit in live turkeys during the January-July 2012 period, as opposed to the $40.6 million surplus in sweet potatoes


254 Million

Total number of turkeys expected to be raised in the U.S. this year, marking a 2 percent jump from 2011

(Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service)

46 Million

Estimated number of turkeys expected to be raised this year in Minnesota, which leads the U.S. in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (36 million), Arkansas (29 million), Missouri (18 million), Virginia (17 million) and Indiana (17 million)


768 Million Lbs.

Forecast for U.S. cranberry production, a Thanksgiving meal staple, led by Wisconsin (450 million lbs.) and Massachusetts (210 million lbs.)


2.7 Billion Lbs.

Total weight of sweet potatoes, a Thanksgiving meal staple, produced by major sweet potato-producing states in 2011, led by North Carolina (1.3 billion lbs.)


$5.6 Million

Value of U.S. imports of sweet potatoes, with 45.3 percent coming from the Dominican Republic

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Statistics)


Number of baked goods stores in the U.S., where many people go to buy Thanksgiving desserts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau's County Business Patterns)


43.6 Million

Number of Americans projected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a 0.7 percent increase over the number of people who traveled in 2011

(Source: 2012 AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast)

39.1 Million

Number of Americans expected to travel by automobile for Thanksgiving this year, up 0.6 percent from last year


3.14 Million

Number of Americans traveling by air this holiday weekend, down from 3.2 million last year


588 Miles

Average distance traveled by Americans this holiday weekend, down from 706 miles last year due in part to a decrease in the number of air travelers and Americans' desire to economize budgets


Story continues below infographic.

Click image for larger view. Credit: Nationwide Bank



Percentage of Americans who have already started their holiday shopping

(Source: National Retail Federation's holiday consumer spending survey)

147 Million

Estimated number of people planning to shop this Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), with 71 million planning to make purchases and another 76 million saying they will wait and see what retailers have in-store that weekend

(Source: NRF's preliminary Black Friday shopping survey)


Percentage of American consumers who will look for holiday gift ideas online, followed by in-store inspiration (45.2 percent), advertising circulars (36.2 percent), television (35.4 percent), friends and family (40.4 percent), catalogs (34.1 percent) and Facebook (13.3 percent)

(Source: NRF's holiday consumer spending survey)


Percentage of multichannel retailers planning to promote their in-store Black Friday deals with mobile alerts, up significantly from the 18.4 percent who planned to do so last year

(Source's 2012 eHoliday survey)


Percentage of multichannel retailers planning to use Facebook to alert shoppers about in-store deals, up from 73.7 percent last year



Percentage of independent merchants planning to incorporate November 24th's Small Business Saturday as part of their holiday strategy, with the majority (67 percent) saying they will offer discounts the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday

(Source: National Federation of Independent Businesses and American Express's Small Business Saturday Insights Survey)


Percentage of small business owners who say Small Business Saturday is the most important shopping day during holiday season - more important than Black Friday and Cyber Monday; 28 percent intend to increase the number of employees who will work on that day



Percentage of Small Business Saturday participants expecting a year-over-year boost in sales that day


Click image for larger view. Credit: Kapitall

In celebration of Thanksgiving, IMT will be on hiatus Thursday and Friday. We'll be back on Monday, November 26th with our Weekly Industry Crib Sheet. We wish all our readers a happy and festive Thanksgiving!