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Holiday Shopping Update: ‘Turkey Wednesday’ a Boon for Grocers 

Last-minute Thanksgiving shopping led to major gains for the nation’s top grocery stores this year.

A new report by analytics firm Placer.ai shows the nation’s top grocery store chains saw a big jump in foot traffic the day before Thanksgiving, even compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Data looking at the top seven grocers across the U.S. showed “Turkey Wednesday 2021” visits jumped 17.1% year-over-year, and 5.1% compared to pre-pandemic figures in 2019.


The winners in the grocery category on Turkey Wednesday were Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, which saw visits increase 26.5% and 20.8%, respectively, year over year. They were followed by Meijer (16%), Publix (15.4%), H-E-B (14.2%), Albertsons (13.9%), and Kroger (13.1%).

Grocery-adjacent brands also saw a boost during Turkey Wednesday. Target and Walmart saw impressive surges in traffic compared to 2020 and 2019.

The only grocery related sector that didn’t see a significant jump was the wholesale club segment. The types of bulk, planned buys that shoppers usually turn to those stores for were less appealing for a last-minute Thanksgiving shop, it appears.

Meanwhile, the Farm Bureau’s annual survey indicated that the average cost of this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast for 10 was $53.31, or less than $6 per person. That represented a $6.41, or 14%, increase from 2020’s average of $46.90. However, according to USDA data, grocery stores began advertising lower feature prices later than usual this year.


Traffic at retail stores on Black Friday dropped 28.3% compared to 2019 levels, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions, reported CNBC (Nov. 27). However, traffic was up 47.5% compared with year-ago levels. During this time in 2020, many shoppers stayed at home due to fears around the pandemic.

Online, retailers saw $8.9 billion in sales on Black Friday, down from the record of about $9 billion spent a year earlier, according to data from Adobe Analytics, marking the first time that growth reversed from the prior year.

Meanwhile, Cyber Monday sales dropped 1.4% when compared to the date in 2020, representing the first time Adobe Analytics tracked a slowdown in spending on a major shopping day. However, shopping for the season was robust, with online sales up 11.9% year over year from Nov. 1 through Cyber Monday, reported CNBC (Nov. 30).