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60 Percent of U.S. Adults Plan to Shop and Buy Gifts Thanksgiving Weekend, According to CEA Survey

As the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season approaches, new data released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® shows that the average U.S. adult plans to spend $218 between Thursday and Monday. The survey also found half of consumers say the impending “fiscal cliff” will impact their holiday spending.

CEA’s Pre-Black Friday Survey found that 60 percent of U.S. adults plan to shop Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, through Cyber Monday, with Black Friday expected to be the busiest shopping day of the weekend. Overall, 37 percent of U.S. adults plan to shop this Friday, with one-third (33 percent) going to a retail store and 20 percent shopping online. Saturday and Cyber Monday will be the next most popular shopping days of the weekend, with more than a third (34 percent) of adults planning to shop on Saturday and a quarter (25 percent) will go in-store or online on Monday.

Most shoppers (57 percent) will end up purchasing at least one gift this weekend, an increase of 10 percent from last year. The average adult will spend, on average, $218 Thursday through Monday, up from $159 in 2011. Consumers plan to spend $842 on all gifts this year, according to CEA’s 19th Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study.

“The 2012 Thanksgiving weekend has the potential to be the biggest shopping weekend on record,” said Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s chief economist and senior director of research. “A full 66 percent of shoppers haven’t completed any of their holiday shopping, but on average, by the end of the weekend, consumers expect to have completed some 30 percent of their holiday shopping.”

While tablets and smartphones will be the most wanted gifts this year, shoppers who already own these devices will be using them to help find that perfect gift. Overall, 69 percent of U.S. adults will use a mobile connected device, like a smartphone, tablet or cell phone, while shopping or to research gifts this weekend. Nearly half (47 percent) will use the device to get more information on products, both before going to the store and while in the store, 44 percent will use them to comparison shop and 39 percent will use their mobile device to look up retailer information, such as a store’s location or hours.

Most consumers believe they’ll get a good deal this weekend. CEA’s holiday research found that 81 percent of consumers think Thanksgiving weekend deals will be as good as or better than last year’s holiday. The most popular way for consumers to learn about sales and discounts this weekend will be through various advertisements. More than half of consumers (54 percent) will learn about deals through circulars or ads in the mail, 53 percent will find deals through newspaper ads and 52 percent will learn of deals by watching TV commercials. Word of mouth will also be popular, with 52 percent of consumers finding out about deals and sales from their friends and family.

Not all of the research results point to completely positive results this weekend however. More than half (51 percent) of those surveyed said the risk of the fiscal cliff will negatively impact their overall spending this holiday season as well as the amount of money they spend on gifts. Eighteen percent of respondents said the fiscal cliff was going to have a large impact on their overall spending this holiday.

As consumers head to stores and go online this holiday weekend, there are some tips they should keep in mind, according to DuBravac:

  • 1. Start Today: While the Black Friday shopping weekend will officially kick off on Thursday, many retailers are starting promotions early and some are even extending Black Friday pricing promotions for the entire week.
  • 2. Consider Going Online, Especially on Thursday: Many retailers are offering their Black Friday deals online. If you want to avoid crowds, online may be your best bet.
  • 3. Plan Ahead: Nearly every retailer, both online and in-store, will have Black Friday promotions this weekend. Spend some time researching what you want and what different retailers have to offer. Download in advance popular apps you may want to have on hand while shopping.
  • 4. Make a List: Making a list will keep you on track and ensure you get everything you intended to get. Your list should include exact model numbers for the items you plan to buy. We expect there will be more than 200 promotions for tablet computers this weekend. If there is a specific model you plan to buy, ensure you know the model or SKU number so you get what you want. To be safe, bring the ads with you, either physically or download copies onto your smartphone or tablet.
  • 5. Charge Your Smartphone: Most of us will be turning to our smartphones this weekend to help us shop. Don’t be left out because you failed to charge your phone in advance.
  • 6. Go After What You Want Most First: While retail inventory levels heading into the weekend are looking healthy, many deals will have limited quantities or will be for a limited time so you’ll want to make sure you get them before supplies run out.
  • 7. Not Sure What to Buy, Think Tech: If you are unsure what to get, look at the items that are dominating others’ planned purchase lists: tablet computers, mobile phones and televisions. Tablets will be the most purchased item in any shopping category and technology will rival clothing as the most frequently purchased category this weekend.
  • 8. Be Kind: Black Friday weekend can be a frenzy. While the deals you’ll see this weekend are some of the best you’ll find the entire year, patience will be a virtue. It will be the busiest shopping weekend in history. Each year, retailers work to provide an improved consumer experience, but expect the unexpected to occur.

CEA plans to release results from its Post Black Friday Survey on Saturday, November 24, the day after Black Friday. CEA’s Shawn DuBravac will also host an analyst call on Sunday, November 25 at Noon ET/9am PT. To participate in that call, please dial 1-866-214-0726. The passcode is 794838. On the call, DuBravac will discuss highlights from Black Friday, including how much money consumers spent, what they purchased and where they shopped. DuBravac will also discuss, in more detail, the impact of the fiscal cliff on holiday shopping. For more information, email Steve Kidera at [email protected]. CEA will also host a webinar on Tuesday, November 27 at 2pm ET/11am PT. For more information and to register, click here.

CEA’s Pre-Black Friday Survey was designed and formulated by the Consumer Electronics Association. It represents the findings of a quantitative study administered via telephone interview between November 15 and 18, 2012 to two national probability samples, which, when combined, consists of 1,003 U.S. adults. 653 interviews were conducted by landline phone, and 350 interviews were conducted by cell phone. The margin of sampling error at 95 percent confidence for aggregate results is +/- 3.1 percent. Please cite any information to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®.

About CEA:

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $206 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International CES – The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at, and through social media:!/CEAfeed,,


  • 2013 International CES
    January 8-11, 2013, Las Vegas, NV

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