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How the US paused shopping (and browsing) for Thanksgiving


4 min read

So, if you like to keep up with the tradition in the United States you and your family yesterday (November 25, 2021) celebrated Thanksgiving. So on a special day, with family gatherings for many and with a lot of cooking if you’re into the tradition (roast turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie), it makes sense that different Internet patterns show up on Cloudflare Radar.

First, let’s look at shopping habits. After a busy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, online shopping paused for Thanksgiving Day and dipped at lunchtime. So in a very good week for e-Commerce, Thanksgiving was an exception, especially at the extended lunchtime.

Now, let’s focus on Internet traffic at the time of the Thanksgiving Dinner. First, what time is that? Every family is different, but a 2018 survey of US consumers showed that for 42% early afternoon (between 13:00 and 15:00 is the preferred time to sit at the table and start to dig in). But 16:00 seems to be the “correct time” — The Atlantic explains why.

Cloudflare Radar shows that Internet traffic in the US increased this past seven days, compared with the previous period, and that makes sense given that it’s traditionally a good week for online shopping. But we can also see in the next chart that the time of Thanksgiving dinner in the continental US was a clear exception.

The circle in red in the chart clearly shows us that yesterday afternoon in the US the Internet traffic was a lot slower than the previous days at the same time and that’s more evident between 21:00 and 01:00 UTC (we use that as a standard timezone in Radar). That time period is “translated” for the East Coast between 16:00 and 20:00 EST and for the West Coast the time between 13:00 to 17:00 PST.

Internet traffic is going up

We can also use Cloudflare Radar to see that in the last two weeks Internet traffic in the US has been increasing (compared with the same period of the previous month). In a time of the year when temperatures go down, Internet traffic was definitely going up. That’s more evident this week after Sunday, November 21.

The biggest spike of the last 30 days, so far (maybe today, Black Friday, November 26, will change that — you can see the live trends using Radar), was definitely in the evening of Monday, November 22 (~02:00 UTC, November 23). This past Tuesday night, November 23, was the second day of the month with the highest traffic in the US, and the third day was actually the next day (Wednesday, November 24).

We can also see on Radar (represented in the next chart) that after several days of the Internet traffic peaks being reached at around 02:00 UTC (which “translates” to 21:00 EST and 18:00 PST), this Thanksgiving Day it was reached later, at about 03:00 UTC (22:00 EST and 19:00 PST).

Mobile traffic goes up in the busiest online week of the month

Another interesting trend regarding Thanksgiving week in the US is how there are more people this week using mobile devices to access the Internet than in the previous weeks.

Yesterday, November 25, mobile traffic represented 54% of the Internet traffic in the US. That’s 8% more than the usual 46% of mobile traffic percentage in the US that we registered in the last 30 days — in the last seven days that number goes up to 49%.

Actually, back in October when we blogged about the popularity of mobile traffic in the world, only 42% of the Internet traffic in the US was made using mobile devices.

We can actually see this more clearly when we only focus on mobile traffic. This past Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, the mobile traffic percentage in the US increased by about 6% compared to the previous week:


When we announced Cloudflare Radar, back in September 2020, we explained how Internet use follows patterns that humans create. Throughout the pandemic we saw different trends caused by people being more at home than usual, but Internet patterns also change at specific times of the year (like when students go back to school or when it’s colder outside) or on some holidays like Thanksgiving.

Like we saw in the US yesterday, a holiday can affect Internet traffic as a whole, but also the time of the day we are online most, the devices we use to access the Internet and the types of websites we visit (e-commerce websites are getting an increase in traffic this week).

And remember: you can keep an eye on Cloudflare Radar to monitor how we see Internet traffic globally and in every country.

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João Tomé|@emot

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