November 22, 2013, 3:37 PM

Thanksgiving shoppers will spend half their holiday budgets next week

Most of them will start shopping on Black Friday, a survey says.

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U.S. consumers say they plan to spend 50.7% of their holiday budgets during the Thanksgiving sales period, which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to a survey from the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research sponsored by consulting firm KPMG. Most (62%) will start shopping on Black Friday.

“One way to view this is that consumers expect to get half of their holiday shopping out of the way before December begins,” Kurt Carlson, the Institute’s director, says. The Institute surveyed 1,020 U.S. consumers online in the first week of November to gauge their Thanksgiving shopping plans.

While next week will be busy for shoppers, with the economic outlook still sluggish, 80% of survey respondents say they will spend only as much as or less than they did during the holidays last year. Most Thanksgiving weekend shoppers—63%—will buy items both in stores and online, while 25% will shop only on the web and 12% only in stores, the survey says. The top items they plan to purchase are recreational goods, apparel, electronics and toys and games, and in all categories except electronics the respondents say they plan to buy more items for others than for themselves.

Some retailers are preparing for the rush of gift-seeking consumers by pushing their Thanksgiving weekend deals, if confusingly in title, to earlier days. Walmart.com, for one, is starting its Cyber Monday sales on the prior Saturday, Nov. 30, it announced today. That sale will last until Friday, Dec. 6, and feature online deals on 200 items daily, the retailer says. It is also sending its e-mail subscribers, mobile app users and Facebook fans invitations to an exclusive online shopping event on Sunday, Dec. 1, which will feature 20 of its best Cyber Monday deals while supplies last, it says.

Walmart.com has also lowered its minimum order value for online shoppers to receive free shipping, to $35 from $50, starting today.

“More than two-thirds of people who plan to shop in our stores on Black Friday also plan to shop Cyber Monday,” Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com U.S., says. “Every year there’s a bigger appetite for Cyber Monday, so we’re giving our customers great deals and rolling back our free shipping minimum to $35, helping them extend their budgets this holiday season.”

Accordingly, Walmart.com has also tripled the number of deals it is offering in advance of “Cyber week,” which starts with Cyber Monday. The retailer also announced today that it will showcase online on Thanksgiving Day many of the deals that will be available in retail stores on the following day, Friday, Nov. 29, or Black Friday.

Meanwhile Sears Holdings Corp., which operates Sears and Kmart department stores, is running one-day Black Friday pre-sales, staring tonight at Sears.com—a full week in advance of the actual Black Friday—and on Sunday at Kmart.com, the company says. Both early sales are exclusively for members of the retailer’s Shop Your Way rewards program. Sears.com will feature more than 1,000 deals, while Kmart.com will feature more than 100 deals, Sears says.

Sears is No. 6 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide. Walmart.com is No. 4.

Black Friday also portends to be very mobile this year, according to a survey from mobile privacy and security company Asurian. In October, the company surveyed online 725 U.S. adult wireless subscribers about how their holiday smartphone use. Among the respondents, it found:

  • Smartphone owners already use three or four retail shopping apps.
  • 62% of them plan to use shopping apps on Black Friday.
  • 46% will use their smartphones to find product information on Black Friday.
  • 35% will use their smartphones to find coupons and discount codes on Black Friday.
  • 49% will make purchases from their smartphones on Black Friday.
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