While there are days that generate more hype – Black Friday, Cyber Monday – the peak of the grocery calendar is Turkey Wednesday. The missing items for the Thanksgiving meal or just the necessities to ensure a smooth holiday weekend can create a powerful demand that drives visits and transactions.
We dove into the location data to see how 2022’s iteration of grocery’s biggest traffic day stacked up against the unique heights in 2021 and before.
Up Big on 2019, Just Short of 2021
Turkey Wednesday 2022 marked a similar pattern seen throughout the year with the grocery sector up on its pre-pandemic standard, but down compared to the peaks hit in 2021. Visits to grocery stores nationwide were down 2.5% compared to the same day in 2021, but up 4.5% on the equivalent day in 2019. This indicates yet again that while visits may be reduced slightly compared to the year prior, the overall sector was given a long-term boost by the pandemic’s retail impact.
And looking at the comparison to pre-Turkey Wednesday averages shows that the grocery retail holiday has maintained its powerful draw. Visits were up 87.8% compared to average daily visits in the first nine months of the year and up 79.0% compared to the daily average of the three weeks prior.
Diving into the Chains
A similar pattern was seen when breaking down the Turkey Wednesday visits to top grocery chains with 2022 data confirming observations from our recent white paper. Traditional grocers such as Albertsons and Publix experience higher visitation peaks during Turkey Wednesday compared to limited-assortment grocers like Aldi, Lidl, and Trader Joe’s.
This is an important takeaway as it reinforces the powerful role that many of these traditional, all-in-one grocery chains play - even in the face of rising competition from value and discount oriented competitors. The emphasis on proximity, regional expertise, and loyalty have given these chains a significant boost since the onset of the pandemic, and the strength appears to be lasting. It also reinforces important opportunities that exist within the grocery sector for revenue expansion including the opportunities for upsell and marketing value.
Spreading the Holiday Cheer
But, as we noted in our recent holiday trends white paper, superstores and dollar stores do also see an uptick in visits as a result of the pre-Thanksgiving prep. Comparing the Turkey Wednesday visits to the Q1-Q3 2022 average and to the average daily visits through the first three weeks of November, the chains analyzed showed a strong performance, although not as strong as the grocers experienced.
The opportunity here is perhaps even stronger with chains like Target and Walmart possessing a unique capacity to turn a trip for one specific item into a much larger and more expansive basket. The recognition that the pre-Thanksgiving rush will drive visits is key to maximizing the impact of each of these visits.
Even with the stress of inflation, several chains showed a strong performance on Turkey Wednesday 2022 when compared to 2018, and 2019 and only a slight dip when compared to the foot traffic of 2021. The significance here is crucial as it emphasizes one of the core pillars of strength for these retailers. When an opportunity arises to drive urgency for retail visits, these chains are often well-positioned to attract those visits and drive conversions.
Will Turkey Wednesday strength portend a similar pattern on Black Friday?
Visit Placer.ai to find out.