NEW YORK (AP) – Shoppers were looking for the best deals in stores and online as retailers offered new Black Friday discounts to entice consumers who want to start shopping for holiday gifts but were weighed down by inflation.
With food, rent, gas, and other essentials rising in price, many people were reluctant to spend unless there was a big sale.
Buyers were becoming more selective, opting for cheaper options, dipping more into savings and turning to “buy now, pay later” services that allow them to pay in installments. As the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to cool the U.S. economy, some were also turning on their credit cards.
Sheila Diggs, 55, went to a Walmart in Mount Airy, Maryland, on Friday morning to check out the coffee maker and see what else was in the aisles. He said his family is more careful about holiday spending this year. Usually, all adults in the family exchanged gifts. But this year, everyone names and chooses one person because everything costs more, he said.
“Everything goes up except your salary,” said Diggs, who manages medical records at a local hospital.
This year’s trends are different from a year ago when consumers bought early for fear of not being able to get what they need amid supply chain congestion. The stores didn’t have to discount much because they had trouble bringing in the items.
This year, shoppers are looking for the best deals, said Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, who tracks online sales. He said retailers finally responded this week, offering more attractive deals online after offering mostly dull discounts. early in the season.
According to Salesforce data, online discount rates were 31% on Thanksgiving Day, up 7% from the previous year. The sharpest discounts were on household appliances, general clothing, makeup and luxury bags. Online sales during the holiday increased by 9% compared to last year.
“Retailers have finally stepped up their discount game, and consumers are responding in kind,” Garf said.
Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan was packed with shoppers early Friday morning, where discounts included 60% off fashion jewelry and 50% off select shoes.
Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said Black Friday traffic was “significantly greater” than the previous two years because shoppers feel more comfortable in crowds.
Among the bestsellers from Macy’s online sale, which started last weekend, are 50% off beauty kits, she said. Last year, Macy’s, like many other stores, had problems with its supply chain, and some of the gifts did not arrive until after Christmas.
“Right now we’re set and ready to go,” he said.
Sophia Rose, a 40-year-old respiratory specialist visiting Manhattan from Albany, New York, was heading to Macy’s with big plans after making the leap last year while still in school. She’s budgeted herself for food and gas to keep up with inflation, but she’s already spent $2,000 on holiday gifts and plans to spend a total of $6,000.
“I’m going to touch every floor,” he said. “That’s the plan.”
At Best Buy in Manhattan, TVs were stacked high, including Samsung 50-inch TVs marked down to $297, a savings of $82.
Delmarie Quinones, a 30-year-old home health aide from the Bronx, was there to pick up a laptop and printer she ordered online for $179 as part of a Black Friday sale — down from $379.
Quinones said higher prices for food and other expenses are forcing her to cut back on her spending compared to a year ago, when she had money from state child tax credit payments.
“I can’t buy what I used to buy,” says the mother of five children, ages 1-13.
Major retailers, including Walmart and Target, have stuck with the pandemic-era decision to close stores on Thanksgiving, ditch concierges and instead offer discounts on their websites.
But people still shop online on Thanksgiving. Garf said online sales spiked in the evenings during the holiday, when people went from partying to phone shopping. And with holiday travelhe said this year, more online shopping is happening on mobile devices.
“The cell phone has become the remote control of our daily lives, which has led to an increase in couch shopping as consumers settle down after Thanksgiving,” Garf said.
Against today’s economic backdrop, the National Retail Federation, the largest retail trade group, expects holiday sales growth to slow to 6% to 8% from 13.5% growth a year ago. However, these figures, which include online spending, are not adjusted for inflation, so real spending may even be lower than a year ago.
Adobe Analytics expects online sales to grow 2.5% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, a drop from last year’s 8.6% pace as shoppers suspect they are returning to brick-and-mortar stores.
Analysts see the five-day Black Friday weekend as a key barometer of shoppers’ willingness to spend, especially this year. The two-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas accounts for about 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales.
Hadero reported from Mount Airy, Maryland. Olson reported from Arlington, Virginia. Associated Press Personal Finance Writer Cora Lewis in New York contributed to this report.
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