Here’s How to Prep for the Thanksgiving Shop

IRI data provide retailers with insight into a holiday retail season marred by out of stocks and higher prices.

October 28, 2021

Thanksgiving Meal

CHICAGO—The sales uplift for edible products in the four weeks leading up to Thanksgiving is typically worth about $2.2 billion, according to data company IRI. With widespread supply chain challenges impacting industries across the economy, IRI has identified grocery trends ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Those trends indicate that more shoppers are planning ahead this year. Historically, the sales uplift has been concentrated evenly in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving; however, in 2020, the bulk of Thanksgiving sales shifted a week earlier. IRI suggests that retailers get ready for early Thanksgiving shoppers and ensure that they have key products stocked and a promotion strategy in place to capitalize on heightened demand.

Suppliers should be strategic about keeping products in stock across different regions, says IRI. Stock amounts of the top 25 Thanksgiving-related categories are different across regions. In markets in Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, in-stock rates of the tracked Thanksgiving items are generally 7 to 9 percentage points above the national average. In markets in Kansas, Nebraska and Texas, supply shortages have contributed to in-stock rates between 9 and 11 percentage points below the national average.

“Manufacturers should closely monitor their in-stock levels by retailer and region and leverage both historical and real-time purchase data to anticipate shortages and allocate products across markets to accommodate shoppers’ shifting holiday demand patterns,” said IRI.

Shoppers should be willing to get creative if their preferred product is out of stock. Product availability in the whipped toppings, liquid gravy, bakery pies and frozen pie/pastry shells categories was between 5 and 13 percentage points lower this week than the same time last year, but availability has been improving in these categories compared with a week ago. Conversely, bottled cider and pie/pastry filling categories have in-stock levels on par with this week last year, but their stock levels are low, and supply is declining compared with last week.

“Holiday shoppers should plan to shop early for those key ingredients that are experiencing significant out-of-stock levels or prepare to make creative substitutions,” said IRI.