5 Reasons for C-Stores to Give Thanks This Thanksgiving

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

Family at Thanksgiving

CHICAGO -- Convenience stores stand to reap the benefits of increased travel and shopping this Thanksgiving holiday, which is expanding into a nearly weeklong event.

Here is a roundup of some 2017 Thanksgiving statistics …

Highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005


AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3% increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation's roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.

"A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president of travel and publishing for AAA.

While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, most holiday travelers (89.3%) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 3.2% this Thanksgiving, with 45.5 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. This November's national average gasoline price is $2.54 per gallon, 37 cents more than last November.

Consumer optimism could fuel record travel


A record 93% of American drivers say they will be driving the same or more in the next 30 days, according to the latest NACS Consumer Fuels Survey. And they also will be shopping. Nearly three in four consumers (72%) say they will spend the same or more this upcoming month in stores, led by 79% of Americans ages 50 and above, as well as 77% of those in the Midwest.

Consumer confidence regarding the economy is also very high; a record 61% of consumers say they are optimistic about the economy, the same percentage as the month prior and up 11 percentage points compared to November 2015. Consumer optimism is highest in the Northeast (65%) and South (62%), though a solid majority of consumers in the Midwest (59%) and West (57%) report feeling optimistic.

Prices at the pump continue to drive consumer optimism, with three in four consumers (75%) saying that gas prices affect their views of the economy.

“Steady gas prices and high levels of economic optimism are great signs for convenience stores heading into the holidays. Convenience stores expect strong sales for fuel, food and drinks from now through the end of the year,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives for NACS.

Penn Schoen Berland conducted the survey for NACS between Nov. 8-10, 2017; it surveyed 1,100 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a car, truck or van at least once per month.

Thanksgiving dinner price tag hits five-year low

Thanksgiving price graphic

The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner for 10 is $49.12, a 75-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.87, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 32nd annual price survey. Adjusting for inflation, the cost is $20.54, the lowest since 2013.

A 16-pound turkey came in at $22.38 this year, or approximately $1.40 per pound, a decrease of 2 cents per pound or 36 cents per turkey, compared to 2016.

The shopping list includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and coffee and milk sufficient to serve a family of 10 with leftovers.

Foods showing the largest decreases this year in addition to turkey were a gallon of milk, $2.99; a dozen rolls, $2.26; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.45; a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.52; a 1-pound. bag of green peas, $1.53; and a group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $2.72.

Items that increased in price were a half-pint of whipping cream, $2.08; a 14-ounce package of bread stuffing, $2.81; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.21; a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, $2.43; and a 1-pound veggie tray (carrots and celery), 74 cents.

Volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 39 states, looking for the best possible prices without taking advantage of promotions, coupons or free-turkey deals.

Turkey + Wine > Family?

Thanksgiving Turkey

Which turkey would you rather spend time with? Three in four respondents (75%) of a Shopkick survey said they choose to cook the Thanksgiving meal to avoid family for a few hours, with the majority (54%) opting to enjoy a glass of wine before the meal.

Some other trends from Redwood City, Calif.-based Shopkick:

  • Half of those surveyed plan to spend less than $100 on the meal, even with 68% taking two to four trips to the grocery store.
  • Traditional turkey reigns supreme; four in five will roast their bird, and only 10% will deep fry this year.
  • More than half (53%) make pies from scratch, but take a shortcut on the whipped cream. Four out of five people will use store-bought whipped cream.
  • Every state’s favorite side is stuffing, except in Arizona, where respondents prefer mashed potatoes.

The five shopping days of Thanksgiving

Black Friday shopping

An estimated 164 million people, or nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of Americans, said they are planning to shop or are considering shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the annual survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Of those considering shopping over the long holiday weekend, the survey found that 20% plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day (32 million), but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 70% planning to shop the day after Thanksgiving (115 million). Also, 43% plan to shop on Saturday (71 million), with 76% saying they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday. On Sunday, 21% plan to shop (35 million) and 48% plan to shop on Cyber Monday (78 million).

While many consumers will take advantage of deals over Thanksgiving weekend, 31% will refrain from shopping that weekend. Of those not planning to participate, 52% won’t shop because they do not enjoy the experience, and 51% say they never shop during Thanksgiving weekend.

NRF conducted the survey, which asked 7,439 consumers about their shopping plans, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7.