An estimated 166.3 million people are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. This figure is almost 8 million more consumers than last year and is the highest estimate since the NRF began tracking the data in 2017.

“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the weeks ahead, and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at prices they want to pay.”

According to the survey, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of holiday shoppers plan to shop during the Thanksgiving weekend this year. The top reasons are the deals are too good to pass up (59 percent), tradition (27 percent) or it’s something to do for the holiday (22 percent).

Black Friday continues to be the most popular day to shop, with 69 percent (114.9 million) planning to shop, followed by 38 percent (63.9 million) on Cyber Monday. Among the 114.9 million shoppers on Black Friday, 67 percent said they expect to shop in-store, up from 64 percent in 2021.

Similar to 2020 and 2021, this year, 60 percent of holiday shoppers started in early November. The trend to shop early was accelerated by the pandemic. In 2019, 56 percent of holiday shoppers started their shopping around this time.

“While consumers continue to save the bulk of their holiday shopping for later in November and December, some of that spending has shifted into October,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “This year, 18 percent of holiday shoppers have completed at least half of their holiday shopping. While this is on par with last year, it is up from only 11 percent a decade ago.”

Online search (43 percent) remains the most popular way to shop, followed by friends and family (35 percent) and within a retail store (31 percent). The top five gift categories are clothing (55 percent), gift cards (45 percent), toys (37 percent), books/music/movies/video games (33 percent), and food/candy (31 percent).

Total spending on gift cards is expected to reach $28.6 billion, compared with $28.1 billion in 2021. Similar to last year, holiday shoppers plan to purchase between three to four gift cards and spend an average of $51.47 per card ($165.87 per person). Consumers are most likely to purchase a gift card for a restaurant (27 percent), department store (26 percent) or bank-issued gift card (25 percent). Another 10 percent plan to purchase a food delivery service gift card.

The Top 10 toys for boys in 2022 (in order) are Lego, Hot Wheels, cars and trucks, PlayStation, video games, Pokémon, Nerf, 8, electric/remote control cars, dinosaurs, and Xbox.

For girls, the Top 10 toys are Barbie, doll, L.O.L. dolls, Lego, makeup, Squishmallows, American Girl and apparel (tied), Disney-related items, baby doll, and cell phone and Magic Mixies (tied).

The survey of 7,719 adult consumers was conducted November 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points. The NRF forecasted earlier this month that holiday sales during November and December would grow between 6 percent and 8 percent over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5 percent over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion, beating previous records. Holiday retail sales have averaged an increase of 4.9 percent over the past ten years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for gains.

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