Which Grocery Stores Do Consumers Prefer When Shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner?

November 14, 2023

Each year, Thanksgiving is celebrated by spending time with family and friends, centering around the tradition of Thanksgiving dinner. As the holiday approaches, foot traffic to grocery stores of all types increases as consumers stock up on ingredients for the highly anticipated meal.

So, as consumers prepare for their Thanksgiving grocery shopping ventures this year, which food stores will see the most foot traffic? To gain insight, we examined consumer foot traffic to a variety of grocery stores on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2022.

Foot Traffic Trends: Types of Grocery Stores

In 2022, foot traffic at wholesale stores surged by 59% on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, compared to all other Wednesdays. Food stores saw a 37% increase, and big-box stores saw a 33% rise. Although all types of grocery stores saw significant increases in foot traffic, wholesale stores outpaced the competition by an impressive amount.

Wholesalers may have been particularly appealing for those who wanted to host large dinners with many guests without breaking the bank, as wholesale stores offer products in bulk, typically at a lower cost per unit than traditional grocery stores. As consumers grappled with soaring food cost inflation last year, it would make sense for many consumers to do their shopping for Thankgiving at wholesale clubs to stretch their budgets further.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at these trends to see which brands of food stores attracted the most foot traffic on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2022.

Foot Traffic Trends: Grocery Store Brands

In 2022, BJ’s Wholesale saw the most significant increase in foot traffic, surging by 88% on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, compared to all other Wednesdays. Aldi and ShopRite followed closely with a 64% rise, while Costco experienced a 59% increase. In contrast, Whole Foods saw the smallest increase of all chains analyzed, rising just 14%. Another popular choice was Sam’s Club, further illustrating consumers’ overall preference for wholesalers for Thanksgiving grocery shopping.

The increased foot traffic at Aldi, a budget-friendly grocery store, suggests that consumers are prioritizing savings. This is emphasized by the fact that Whole Foods, known for its higher-priced goods, experienced the smallest increase in foot traffic. These trends can largely be attributed to the economic issues that impacted many consumers in 2022, which prompted a shift toward value-conscious shopping.

In 2022, it was estimated that the average Thanksgiving dinner would cost consumers 13.5% more than the year prior, and 45% of consumers planned to cut food items out of their traditional Thanksgiving dinners to save on food costs. Thanksgiving 2022 was fueled by cost-conscious spending and dining on a budget, so what about Thanksgiving 2023?

Shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner in 2023

In 2023, foot traffic to grocery stores before Thanksgiving is expected to remain similar to the trends seen in 2022. With prevailing economic challenges, such as soaring inflation and heightened interest rates, consumers are showing a clear preference for cost-effective shopping. Therefore, foot traffic to budget-friendly stores like BJ’s Wholesale and discount grocers like Aldi is anticipated to once again outpace pricier chains like Whole Foods in the lead-up to Thanksgiving this year.

Furthermore, more consumers will be looking for deals while they shop for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients this year. So, food stores that can further adapt to consumers’ growing preference for value-driven shopping by offering deals and promotions may see some of the most foot traffic in the days before Thanksgiving this year.

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