The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects nearly 2 million more people than last year to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year even as consumer have started their holiday shopping earlier in the year, according to the firm's annual survey.

"We're expecting another record-breaking holiday season this year and Thanksgiving weekend will play a major role as it always had," NRF President and Chief Executive Matthew Shay said in a press release. "Nonetheless, consumers are starting earlier than ever to be sure they can get what they want, when they want it, at a pay. Black Friday stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween."

Based on the firm's survey, an estimated 158.3 million people plan to ship Thanksgiving weekend this year, up from 156.6 million last year but below the 165.3 million recorded in 2019 before the pandemic. The survey found that 30.6 million plan to shop either in-store or online on Thanksgiving Day, 108 million on Black Friday, 58.1 million on what is now call Small Business Saturday, 31.2 million on Sunday and 62.8 million on Cyber Monday, with many surveyed saying they plan to shop multiple days.

For the overall holiday season, the NRF forecasts that sales during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion, with both ranges setting record in terms of growth rate and total amount spent. The firm estimates that each consumer will spend an average of $997.73 on all their gifts.

Investors looking to update their portfolio to benefit from the holiday season should consider exchange-traded funds, which follow indexes comprised of many companies instead of picking-and-choosing individual stocks.

Popular retail-focused ETFs include: Amplify Retail ETF (IBUY  ), ProShares Online Retail ETF (ONLN  ), VanEck Retail ETF (RTH  ), and SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT  ). In total, these funds hold popular holiday retail picks like Amazon (AMZN  ), Alibaba (BABA  ), Target (TGT  ), Walmart (WMT  ) and Best Buy (BBY  ).