Thanksgiving has become an important date in the retail calendar, and more consumers are choosing to shop on Thanksgiving every year. In 2016, about 40% of those surveyed said they would start shopping on Thanksgiving, while in 2017, that number was 58%. 

Why is Thanksgiving so popular?

There are many reasons why Thanksgiving is such a popular shopping time for consumers. Traditionally, it began as a day to give thanks for the preceding year and for the blessing of the harvest. In the US, it’s celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Today, it also tends to be a time when retailers offer the best deals to entice shoppers into their stores to make a purchase.

Customers are also looking for a number of items at this time of year as the Christmas holidays are approaching and everyone is in the market for gifts. In fact, so many people start their gift shopping at this time that it has become a family tradition, and these annual habits can be hard to change.

Finally, because of the deals available and the lure of getting Christmas sorted before December, Thanksgiving shopping has become a game. People compare how much they’ve saved and how close to finishing the Christmas shop they are. There’s also a psychological thought that shopping fuels the thrill of the hunt, something that our brains want to satisfy.

Consumer spending spree

But that hasn’t stopped consumers from spending money on Thanksgiving. In fact, between 2016 and 2017, there was a 4% increase in spending, and the total holiday season was worth $682 billion.

The average consumer in 2017 spent just under $50 on Thanksgiving. This is just a fraction of what the average American shopping bill is over the holiday season ($1000). Customers shopping at this time are mostly looking for Christmas gifts.

Most of the sales are now coming via online stores, with mobile shoppers starting to overtake desktop shoppers. This is an interesting proposition for those retailers who don’t have a mobile-friendly online shop as they are more likely to lose out on potential sales during this very lucrative time of the year.

So, if you’re hoping for your retail store to make the best out of the Thanksgiving period, you’ll need to consider how other stores have achieved great results in the past. There are several tricks and tips to entice customers to your store to boost sales on this special day.

1. Create online/in-store exclusive deals

If you want to attract customers into buying from your store, you need to make that location look more appealing. One way to do this is to offer an exclusive deal for shoppers that’s only available in store.

In 2017, Best Buy offered some of the most popular products in their stores exclusively. One example of this was a 50-inch Toshiba 4k HD TV for just $179.99.

Walmart did exactly the same. When a customer bought an iPhone X, iPhone 8 or an iPhone 8 Plus, the store gave the customer a free $300 Walmart gift card. This was by far the best deal on offer for an iPhone over the holiday.

By offering a product or a certain discount in-store only, you’re going to be driving your customers to that specific platform to make a purchase. You can then create a purchasing path that can increase transaction value by cross-selling relevant products.

2. Ensure your offers are enticing enough

The average discount for many items on Thanksgiving is about 23%. Shoppers are very price savvy and will check your price against that of other stores and online.

If you don’t have offers that can match those from your competitors, you are going to lose out on sales. Of course, it’s important to note that your offers don’t have to be completely price based.

Many customers are willing to spend slightly more on a product if they trust your brand more over a competitor. Also, if buying from you is more convenient, that can be a great benefit for customers. So, don’t just think about what your products cost, also consider items like gift wrapping, delivery and other extras that can entice customers to buy from you.

3. Think outside the box

If you want to make your brand stand out, don’t think like everyone else. One option is to offer a discount for a very specific amount like 23.05%. You’ll find that your customers will focus more on the 0.5% than on the 23% and you might get more sales.

There are many different ways you can create compelling offers that aren’t the same as everyone else’s, you just have to be very creative with your ideas.

4. Start marketing before the event

When you want to have a successful Thanksgiving day, you’ll need to plan ahead and start marketing your potential offers beforehand. Customers will be expecting news about your brand’s offers at least a week before the event.

Marketing early and across many platforms allows you to build anticipation and reach a larger audience. Don’t forget to get your content on social media as potential customers can share your deals to reach a greater audience.

5. Competitions are a great way to attract audiences

Younkers department store opened its doors on Thanksgiving in 2017 with a competition. Those who were there when they opened could win a $500 gift card. This attracted more than 300 people.

If you can offer even a small prize, you will attract more customers to your store on the day. With these small tips in place, you’ll be more likely to have a great Thanksgiving that will see sales soar!