- The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest day for many grocery retailers throughout the year, earning it the name Turkey Wednesday, according to location data firm Placer.ai.
- Publix, Safeway and Albertsons each saw substantial increases in foot traffic on this day in both 2017 and 2018. Publix saw an 87.2% increase over baseline traffic in 2017 and an 85.2% increase in 2018, while Safeway saw a 78.4% and 75.8% increase. Albertsons saw a 96.6% increase above average traffic last year. Whole Foods and Giant also saw peaks on this day in prior years.
- Wegmans was an outlier with December 23rd yielding its highest visit rates. Kroger and Stop & Shop also had a single day in which traffic surpassed the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
There are a few ways that grocers prepare for the massive rush on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, including reviewing the prior year’s sales to make sure this year’s bases are covered. In addition to stocking traditional Thanksgiving items, grocers should also pay special attention to departments that can add incremental sales — including chocolates, fruit baskets and other items that take advantage of shoppers' increasing desire to purchase food gifts for themselves.
For retailers offering prepared items to complement a Thanksgiving table, having enough items stocked in areas where consumers will be looking for holiday meal ideas is also important, as well as providing printed recipe cards for side dishes next to the ingredients for those items.
Turkey Wednesday may soon have a digital renaissance the same way that Black Friday has given way to Cyber Monday over the years. More and more shoppers are skipping the store rush to buy their turkey, stuffing and other trimmings online. Across retail, holiday e-commerce spending is projected to grow 14% to 18% this year, according to Deloitte.
As the trend grows, grocers could find that their Turkey Wednesday foot traffic increase doesn’t reach quite the same peak as prior years. Half of shoppers who already use digital channels reported plans to purchase holiday food items online this year, for example, while 63% of shoppers are somewhat likely to purchase a fully prepared meal from an online grocery service.