NEW YORK (AP) – Cautious shoppers searched 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 are weighed down by inflation.
As the prices of food, rent, gasoline and other essentials increased, many people were more selective and refrained from spending unless there was a big sale. Some gravitated toward savings, turned to buy-now-pay-later services, or opened credit cards as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to cool the U.S. economy.
Sheila Diggs, 55, went to a Walmart in Mount Airy, Maryland on Friday morning and wanted to make a deal with the coffee maker. To save money this year, she said the adults in her family called names and chose a person to do the shopping.
“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 buy what they needed amid supply grid congestion. The stores didn’t have to discount much because they had trouble bringing in the items.
Early shopping has been a quick trend, said Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, which tracks online sales. People are waiting for the best deals this year and retailers have responded with even more attractive online deals this week after offering them. mostly small discounts early in the season.
According to Salesforce data, online discount rates were 31% on Thanksgiving Day, up 7% from the previous year. The steepest s were home appliances, general clothing, makeup and luxury handbags.
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.”
Customer traffic at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, was also higher than last year, according to Jill Renslow, the mall’s executive vice president of business development. He said 10,000 people were at the sprawling mall within the first hour after it opened at 7 a.m., though inflation prompted many shoppers to figure out what to buy before showing up.
“With the economy, people are planning a little more,” he said.
Demarie Quinones, 30, went to Best Buy in Manhattan to buy a laptop and printer she ordered online for $179, down from $379. Quinones, a health home aide, said higher prices for food and other expenses are forcing her to cut back on spending a year ago when she had money from government 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 Salesforce data showed an increase in online sales during the holiday this year, with people going from partying to phone shopping. And happy holidays upward journeyhe 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.
But growth in online sales has slowed this year as more shoppers flock to stores.
According to Adobe Analytics, which tracks spending across websites, shoppers spent $5.3 billion online on Thanksgiving, up 2.9% from last year’s holiday. Adobe expects Black Friday online shopping to reach $9 billion, up just 1% from a year ago.
Black Friday has seen some labor unrest ripple through the retail industry over the past year. A coalition of unions and advocacy organizations is coordinating strikes and walkouts at Amazon facilities in more than 30 countries as part of a campaign called “Make Amazon Pay.” Among other places, hundreds of workers protested Friday at a facility near Leipzig, Germany, demanding better working conditions and higher wages.
Some employees at Walmart stores had days off fatal shooting In the back of their minds at a company store in Virginia.
Jude Anani, 35, who works at a Walmart in Columbia, Maryland, said the company offers training on how to handle such situations, but wants to see more protections. He was happy to see a police officer standing outside the store, as he did on Black Friday, and wished it was “most of the year.”
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.
Analysts consider the five-day Black Friday weekend, including Cyber Monday, a key barometer of shoppers’ willingness to spend. 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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