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Turkey Wednesday 2023

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
November 27, 2023
Turkey Wednesday 2023

Turkey Wednesday – the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – is the Black Friday of the grocery sector. It’s the single busiest day of the year for many grocery chains nationwide when consumers flock to their local supermarkets in search of turkeys, stuffing ingredients, and other last-minute supplies.

So with Thanksgiving under our (loosened) belts, we dove into the data to see how the important milestone fared this year. How did visits to grocery stores on Turkey Wednesday compare to visits throughout the pre-Thanksgiving shopping period? And what other food-shopping trends could be observed in the run-up to the holiday? 

A Particularly Strong Showing

On Turkey Wednesday 2023 (November 22nd), grocery stores nationwide drew 92.5% more daily visits than they did, on average, during the six-week period leading up to the important shopping day. This considerable visit spike was the highest seen in recent years – showing that despite economic headwinds, people made plenty of room in their budgets for a nice dinner to mark the special occasion.

Turkey Wednesday in Context

But despite the stand-out importance of Turkey Wednesday, the Thanksgiving food-buying frenzy also has a broader impact on the weeks and days leading up to the holiday. Zooming out on weekly visit trends for the months of October and November shows that the build-up to Turkey Wednesday actually starts several weeks before the holiday. Weekly visits to grocery stores began to trend slowly upwards from late October, before increasing 6.2% during the week of November 13th-19th (the last full week before Thanksgiving) compared to the previous week. So while many people wait to do their grocery shopping at the last minute, others appear eager to get a head start on the holiday meal prep.

And analyzing the change in daily visits compared to an October 11th baseline (six weeks prior to Thanksgiving) shows how the holiday impacts grocery consumers’ behavior throughout the all-important week of the holiday itself. 

During a typical week, grocery store visits spike on Sundays and slump mid-week. But in the days before Thanksgiving, this pattern is upended, as visits continue to climb after the weekend. And while nowhere near Turkey Wednesday proportions, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving also stands out as an important grocery shopping day in its own right, with a visit bump that leaves even typical Sundays in the dust.  

A Day for Traditional Grocers to Shine

Drilling down deeper into the data for leading grocery chains shows that traditional grocery stores continue to lead the Turkey Wednesday pack. Discount and limited assortment chains like Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s experienced visit bumps on the day before Thanksgiving – but it is all-in-one grocery stores like Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, H-E-B, and Meijer that really draw the insane crowds. Though value grocers and limited assortment chains have done exceptionally well this year, on the day before Thanksgiving people seek out one-stop-shops where they can quickly grab everything they need for the holiday.

Key Takeaways

Turkey Wednesday continues to be a major grocery milestone – with many grocery chains experiencing dramatic visit bumps that outperform every other day of the year. How will the category continue to fare as the holiday season wears on? And what lies in store for them during the week before Christmas Eve? 

Follow placer.ai/blog to find out. 

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