Consumer behavior analyst Circana has released its first Thanksgiving Tracker, offering insights into anticipated consumer behavior and purchasing trends for 2023, as well as looking back at similar trends from 2022. This comprehensive analysis will help retailers to make more informed decisions about merchandising and promotions to increase profitability during the Thanksgiving season.

The week prior to and the week of Thanksgiving are critical sales drivers. Trends for 2023 revealed in the new report include:

  • 79 percent report they and their families will celebrate Thanksgiving with the usual traditions
  • 34 percent of those who plan to celebrate state they expect to pay more for groceries, but will purchase the same amount as last year 
  • 44 percent of Generation Z and younger Millennials will be looking for deals, the largest percentage among all shopper cohorts

“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, content and thought leadership, Circana. “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.”

Thanksgiving provided a $2.8 billion sales lift in 2022 compared to the average week, making it the second largest food holiday of the year, surpassed only by Christmas at $6.2 billion. Additional trends that occurred in 2022 that Circana expects to continue this year include:

  • 79 percent of the total four-week Thanksgiving sales uplift took place in the week prior to and the week of Thanksgiving 
  • The Thanksgiving basket of 30 categories drove $2.1 billion or 75 percent of the sales uplift, despite representing only 9% of sales for those weeks
  • The percent of sales sold on promotion for last year’s Thanksgiving basket almost doubled to 50 percent, but the average depth of discount was similar to the rest of the year
  • 10 percent of Thanksgiving meal occasions had an item sourced from a restaurant or foodservice