Nov 25, 2021 - Economy

Post-Thanksgiving shopping looks to make up for lost time

Illustration of a hand holding a bag with a November 2021 calendar on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are itching to get back into their holiday traditions this year — including the traditional post-Thanksgiving shopping blitz.

Why it matters: Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren't the seismic economic and cultural events they used to be, and supply-chain issues have put a damper on things this year, but retailers expect shoppers to come back after a year of isolation — and to spend big.

  • The feeling of wanting to make up for last year is “an important motivator right now,” Katherine Cullen, a senior director at the National Retail Federation, tells Axios. 

By the numbers: About 158 million people are expected to shop in stores or online between now and the end of the day Monday, according to an NRF survey conducted earlier this month.

  • That's roughly 2 million more people than partook in post-Thanksgiving shopping last year, but 7 million lower than the same weekend in 2019.

Yes, but: Retailers still expect a big boost in overall sales, because more people plan to spend more.

  • In a separate study from the NPD Group, 34% of shoppers say they plan to spend more and to buy more gifts because of family and social get togethers.

The big picture: Black Friday lost its literal meaning years ago as sales days multiplied earlier in the year.

  • Holiday shopping started especially early this year as stores and brands warned people to get ahead of any inventory issues caused by supply chain delays.
  • Major retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart and Best Buy, also started running Black Friday promotions and price pledges as early as October.

What to watch: Of those planning to shop tomorrow, 64% (69.1 million) say they are likely to go into a store, up from 51% last year, according to the NRF.

  • That lines up with the NPD Group's findings: Nearly six out of ten people say they feel comfortable shopping in person following wider distribution of vaccines.
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