How Americans Spend Thanksgiving Weekend

How do Americans spend Thanksgiving weekend? Not necessarily in giving thanks, at least not to a religious deity. Averaging data from 2003 through 2007 for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday immediately following Thanksgiving Thursday, a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds 13 percent of people age 15 and older saying they engage in “religious and spiritual activities” in the course of those days. Those who do so spend an average of 1.7 hours per day at it. By contrast, 85 percent said they watch TV, for an average of 3.7 hours per day.

Though retailers seem to get their Christmas decorations up earlier every year, Thanksgiving still marks the beginning of the holiday-shopping season for many consumers. This is reflected in the fact that 46 percent engage in “purchasing goods and services” during Thanksgiving weekend, for an average of 1.6 hours per day. “Socializing and communicating” is on the weekend’s agenda for a similar percentage (43 percent), though taking a greater amount of time (2.5 hours).

The 17 percent who engage in sports during Thanksgiving weekend spend 2.9 hours per day doing so. Since so many people visit friends and relatives during the holiday, it’s not surprising that 80 percent spend time traveling (for a daily average of 1.6 hours).

And let us not forget food, which for many people is the whole point of the weekend. Evidently undaunted by their turkey-centric labors on Thanksgiving day, 48 percent engage in “food and drink preparation” on that Friday, Saturday and Sunday, spending 1.1 hours per day at it. They deserve the thanks of the 98 percent who list “eating and drinking” among their activities for the weekend (1.2 hours per day).