U.S. consumers want to celebrate Thanksgiving without spending more than they budgeted, and retailers are competing to offer discounts.
34% of consumers say they’re on the lookout for deals and coupons as they shop for Thanksgiving, according to consumer behavior research firm Circana. That’s even higher for younger shoppers: 44% of Gen Z and younger millennials will be searching for deals.
“Retailers are pulling out all the stops to provide good value across Thanksgiving essentials,” says Neil Saunders, managing director at retail analysis firm Global Data.
“Manufacturers and retailers have the opportunity to help consumers, many of whom continue to buy on deal, and celebrate Thanksgiving as they always have by understanding their specific needs and targeting promotions effectively,” says Joan Driggs, vice president of Content and Thought Leadership at Circana, in a statement. “There is also significant value in gaining a complete view of consumers and their purchasing strategies, such as plans to source dishes from both home and retail as well as restaurant and foodservice.”
Grocery discount strategies
Grocery retailers adopted different strategies for capitalizing on budget-focused consumers.
For some retailers, that means enticing shoppers with a free turkey, the focal point of the meal. BJ’s Wholesale Club will give members a free turkey if they spend $150 in a certain period, and ShopRite is offering a similar deal for a free turkey or ham.
Meanwhile, Walmart and some other grocery retailers are focused on advertising deals that impact the whole Thanksgiving meal. Walmart announced it would sell all the necessities for a classic Thanksgiving meal for a lower price than 2022 between Nov. 1 and Dec. 26. It comes in two varieties, one with ingredients for cooking the meal and one with pre-made dishes. Walmart says the holiday meal will feed six people for under $30.
Target’s offer is a Thanksgiving meal for four for $25. “We know our guests are looking for incredible value and ease as they get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones,” Rick Gomez, chief food & beverage officer, said in a press release. “In addition to our Thanksgiving meal for under $25, we can reach 80% of Americans with Same-Day Delivery with Shipt.”
Aldi, which recently relaunched its U.S. ecommerce website, is promoting a similar deal. The discount grocer says 70 Thanksgiving essentials are marked down up to 50%, including cranberries, butter, and gravy mix. Turkey is not included in the deal, however.
These sales are indicative of a larger trend around the holiday, Saunders says.
“There is a big emphasis on value for money” among consumers, he says.
Prepared Thanksgiving meals will remain relatively small
Retailers and restaurants are increasingly marketing prepared meals for Thanksgiving celebrants, but they remain a small part of overall spending.
“Anecdotally, we’re seeing more ads from retailers and restaurants promoting full Thanksgiving meals this year,” Driggs says. “But when we look at 2022, both dollar and unit sales of cooking meal kits for Thanksgiving were flat/down slightly from the previous year. Sales of these items peaked in 2021, however, and remain elevated from 2018 levels.”
Meal kit Thanksgiving sales totaled $8.2 million in 2019, growing to a peak of $17.3 million in 2021. However, they declined slightly in 2022, to $17.2 million.
Meal kit retailer Blue Apron is selling a Thanksgiving kit that it says serves six to eight people for $131.98. Competitor Hello Fresh’s Turkey Box, which serves eight to 10, retails for $199.90 this year. Consumers who buy these holiday-themed boxes tend to already be subscribers, rather than new customers, says Saunders.
Decor retailers could see Thanksgiving spending growth
65% of survey respondents told Circana that they plan to buy new holiday-themed tableware this year. However, just 7% expect to spend more than last year, and 20% say they will spend less.
“Home decorations seem to be particularly popular,” Saunders says.
And while many retailers are already advertising Black Friday deals, Williams Sonoma and Crate & Barrel both have homepages touting Thanksgiving hosting purchases. Notably, Williams Sonoma has a prominently displayed date by which customers can order items for Thanksgiving delivery.
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