2013 Thanksgiving Black Friday Survey

INTRODUCTION

The 2013 Thanksgiving Black Friday Survey was conducted in the first week of November with the purpose of informing how consumers plan to shop on and around the Thanksgiving holiday. Some of the many questions answered by this survey include:

  • Where do consumers intend to shop (e.g., online vs. brick-and-mortar stores)?
  • When do they intend to begin shopping?
  • Do they intend to spend more or less this year than they did last year?

The respondents were drawn from an online sample of 1020 U.S. consumers. The sample was slightly more male (63.4%) than female (36.6%), with a median  income of $39,853. About half of respondents (54.7%) live in a suburban area and a majority of them (78.9%) are white. The median age for the respondents was 27 years old.

KEY FINDINGS:

HOW GOOD ARE THE DEALS?
Thanksgiving sales—Black Friday and Cyber Monday—are commonly thought to offer dramatic markdowns on prices. However, recent reports have suggested that some consumers believe that this is due to stores increasing prices before the sales, and then marking them down. We asked respondents to report their perception of how good the deals are on the Thanksgiving holiday.
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HOW MUCH OF THEIR HOLIDAY BUDGET WILL CONSUMERS SPEND ON THANKSGIVING SHOPPING?
Sales run during Thanksgiving are often advertised as the time to purchase holiday gifts for the coming holiday season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.). We asked respondents to estimate the percentage of their holiday gift shopping budget that they would spend at Thanksgiving sales.
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WILL CONSUMERS SPEND MORE OR LESS THIS YEAR?
Recent figures suggest that the U.S. economy is gradually improving and that consumer spending has increased from last year. Will these trends be evident in consumers’ intentions with regard to spending at Thanksgiving sales? We asked consumers if they were planning to spend more, less, or about the same this year compared to last year.
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WHERE DO CONSUMERS PLAN TO SHOP?We wanted to know where consumers were planning to shop. Specifically, were they planning to shop online, at brick-and-mortar establishments, both, or neither.
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WHEN DO CONSUMERS PLAN TO SHOP?The trend in retailing of late has been for stores to start their Thanksgiving sales a little bit earlier each year. With this in mind, we wanted to know if people are planning to start shopping earlier. To examine this, we asked our respondents when they were planning to start pursuing Thanksgiving deals.

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WHAT DO CONSUMERS PLAN TO BUY?

We were interested in understanding what consumers plan to buy at Thanksgiving holiday sales. A common belief is that this is the time to buy big ticket items, and particularly electronics. Would this be evident in consumers’ plans? We provided a list of 10 different categories (the chart on the following page shows nine of these) and asked the respondents to select the categories in which they plan to make a purchase.

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WHO WILL THEY BUY FOR?

People can take advantage of sales to buy things for themselves or for others. An interesting question is whether people use Thanksgiving sales to kick start their holiday shopping or if they simply use them to indulge themselves. We asked respondents which categories they were planning to purchase for themselves, versus other people.

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OTHER TIDBITS

Thanksgiving dinner is at the core of the holiday, which raises several interesting questions around food and social interactions. The survey sought to illuminate some of the questions by asking respondents about the food they plan to purchase, the activities they plan to engage in, and the concerns they have about the holiday.

WHAT CONCERNS DO PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT THANKSGIVING?

In addition to what’s on the table, Thanksgiving is also defined by who is at the table. This is the time when families and friends get together. For some, the holiday can be a source for stress. As such, we wanted to understand what  people were concerned about. We presented those in the sample with a list of common stressors and asked them to select all the ones that they are concerned about.

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WHAT ARE CONSUMERS PLANNING FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER?

Thanksgiving and turkey go together like baseball and hotdogs…or do they? We wanted to know, so we asked people some questions about what they plan to eat on Thanksgiving.

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Next, we wondered if consumers had any specific requirements for the meat they serve. We gave respondents a list of factors that are commonly associated with meat products (e.g., organic, free-range, free of antibiotics, etc.), and asked them to check the ones that they would be considering.

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WHAT ARE CONSUMERS PLANNING TO DO AFTER THE BIG MEAL?

After the food has been eaten and the plates cleared away, what will people be doing? We asked respondents to select as many of options as they liked from five different activities.

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Kurt Carlson

Researcher at the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research and Professor of Marketing, McDonough School of Business

Kurt Carlson is the Associate Dean at the Raymond A. Mason Business School. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. in marketing from Cornell University. Prior to joining William and Mary, Carlson was on the faculty of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University from 2001 to 2009 and the faculty of McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University from 2009-2017.

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