Editor's Note: This content was originally published on Benzinga.com by Bruce Kennedy.
Despite a shorter-than-usual holiday season this year, industry observers expect up to 140 million people do do their holiday shopping, both in-person and online, during the upcoming, four-day-long Thanksgiving break.
A preliminary shopping survey
by the National Retail Federation notes that number is down from 147 million last year.
The NRF also asked those polled if they planned to take advantage of the Thanksgiving Day shopping hours
that stores like Wal-Mart
(NASDAQ:SHLD), Best Buy
(NYSE:BBY) and others plan to offer this year; with 23.5 percent of respondents, or an estimated 33 million shoppers, saying yes.
“As the official kick off to the holiday season, retailers are prepared to pull out all the stops for their online and store shoppers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press statement,
“including offering sweepstakes with cash prizes, free gifts with purchase and even exclusive opportunities to score top gift items before everyone else.”
Black Friday is still expected to remain as the biggest shopping day of the holiday weekend. More than 69 percent of those polled, or about 97 million people, are expected to make their purchases then.
Online shopping, meanwhile, continues to gain in popularity with consumers. Shop.org's eHoliday survey reports more than half of the retailers surveyed plan to start their online holiday promotions at least five days before the Thursday-through-Sunday Thanksgiving weekend – with 53.5 percent saying they plan special promotions on Thanksgiving day.
As for where consumers will actually shop, Accenture's
(NYSE:ACN) annual holiday shopping survey reports
42 percent of consumers plan to do at least half of their holiday shopping online. Accenture also says a high number of consumers, 65 percent, expect to “webroom” – that is, browse for gifts online and then make their purchases in brick-and-mortar stories – in order to avoid shipping costs.
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