Deloitte: Black Friday regaining ground; holiday weekend sales to rise 12%

Marianne Wilson
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Thanksgiving weekend sales will be up from last year.

Supply chain and inflation won’t take the wind out of the sails when it comes to Thanksgiving weekend sales.

That’s according to Deloitte’s “2021 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey,” which forecast that consumers will spend an average of $448 during the Thanksgiving period (Thursday, Nov. 25 – Monday, Nov. 29), up 12% from last year. Half (51%) of consumers' holiday budgets will be spent during the period.

In other findings, Black Friday is regaining lost ground, with 56% of consumers planning to shop in-store, up from 41% in 2020. Black Friday shoppers are expected to spend $135 on average in-store, up from $124 in 2020. The share of online sales for the day is holding steady at 18%.

The report examined how supply chain challenges and inflation are affecting holiday shopping. Sixty-three percent of shoppers have already experienced stockouts, 54% are reporting higher prices, and 37% say there are fewer discounts year-over-year.

In addition, 73% of consumers started holiday shopping before the end of October (versus 66% last year and 61% in 2019) to avoid stockouts (70% versus 55% last year).

“Stockouts and inflation have caused consumers to start buying earlier to ensure they can get the best price for what they want, while it's available,” said Rod Sides, vice chair, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader. “Retailers should be prepared to welcome shoppers throughout the holiday weekend as they prioritize items they can purchase and take home that day. In situations where supply chain and inventory are a challenge this season, retailers will need to have a strong substitution strategy in place to keep shoppers in the store or online."

Deloitte's "2021 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey" examines what retailers can expect from shoppers during the period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Conducted online Oct. 21 – 25, the report surveyed 1,200 adults, ages 18 and over, who plan to shop during the holiday season.

In September, Deloitte forecast that total holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 7% and 9% in 2021, according to Deloitte's annual holiday retail forecast. E-commerce sales are projected to grow by 11% to 15%.

Other highlights from the Deloitte report are below.

• The top reasons to shop in-store on Black Friday are to take advantage of the best deals (70%) and to experience the excitement of the day (35%). In addition, consumers expect to get an early start with 42% planning to shop between midnight and 6 a.m.

• More than one-third (35%) of holiday shoppers plan to increase their holiday spending compared to just two months ago; 41% of those planning to spend more will do so as a result of higher prices this year.

  • Of the shoppers who plan to increase their holiday spending compared to just two months ago, 55% will spend more on experiences and entertainment, up from 49% last year.
  • Sixty-four percent of consumers will check to see if an item is in stock before they go to the store. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of shoppers (63%) have already experienced stockouts. When they do, 60% say they go look elsewhere. That suggests retailers will need to have a strong replacement strategy.
  • Interest in gift items such as clothing (66%), toys (56%) and electronics (53%) remains steady. However, these categories are where shoppers have experienced the most stockouts. Additionally, shoppers buying food and beverage is up by 8 percentage points year-over-year to 52%.
  • To stretch their budgets, 35% of consumers plan to use credit cards, and 30% will take advantage of buy now pay later options. These practices are even more prevalent among millennials (46% and 48%, respectively).

Mass merchants (57%) and online retailers (54%) are the most preferred venues for shopping over the Thanksgiving period.