Inflation looms over shoppers heading into Black Friday

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dated: 2022-11-25 05:40:57 .

NEW YORK (AP) – Black Friday marks a return to normal holiday shopping patterns, but inflation is weighing on consumers.

Increased prices of groceries, rent, gas and other household expenses have weighed heavily on customers. As a result, many are reluctant to spend unless there’s a big sale and are selective about what they buy – in many cases trading up for cheaper items and less expensive deals.

Shoppers are also putting more into their savings, increasingly turning to “buy now, pay later” services like Afterpay, which allows customers to pay for items in installments and top up their credit card at a time when the Federal Reserve… Interest rates have risen to cool the American economy.

Such financial difficulties could keep buyers looking for bargains.

Isela Dalencia, who was shopping for household items like laundry detergent at Walmart in Secaucus, N.J. earlier this week, said she was putting off buying Christmas gifts until Cyber ​​Monday – the Monday after Thanksgiving – when online sales increase. On the other hand, she will wait until the week before Christmas to get the best deals, unlike last year when she started shopping before Black Friday.

“I’m shopping less,” Dalencia said, noting that she will spend about $700 on Christmas gifts this year, a third less than last year.

Katie Leach, a social worker from Manhattan, also browsed the Walmart aisles, but said she will begin her Christmas shopping as usual the first week of December. This time, however, she’ll rely more on bargains, her credit card and buy-now-pay-later services to get through the shopping season as grocery prices and other household expenses rise.

“The money doesn’t go as far as it did last year,” Leach said.

This year’s trends are in contrast to the trends of a year ago, when consumers bought early because they feared they wouldn’t be able to get what they needed due to network congestion. Stores did not have to discount much because they had problems with the introduction of items.

But some habits related to the pandemic remain. Many retailers who closed stores for Thanksgiving and instead offered discounts on their websites to reduce in-store crowds are still sticking to this strategy despite the return to normalcy.

Major retailers like Walmart and Target are closing their stores again on Thanksgiving. And many were moving away from door-busters, heavily discounted items that were offered for a limited time and drew crowds. Instead, discounted items are available throughout the month on Black Friday or a holiday weekend.

Against today’s economic backdrop, the National Retail Federation — the largest retail group — expects holiday sales growth to slow to a range of 6% to 8%, down from a whirlwind 13.5% rise a year ago. However, these figures, which include online spending, are not adjusted for inflation, so actual spending could be even lower than a year ago.

Adobe Analytics expects online sales to grow 2.5% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, slowing from 8.6% last year when shoppers were unsure whether to return to brick-and-mortar stores.

Analysts view the five-day Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber ​​Monday, as an important barometer of shoppers’ willingness to buy, especially this year. The two months between Thanksgiving and Christmas account for about 20% of annual retail sales.

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AP Personal Finance Writer Cora Lewis contributed to this report.

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Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio

Anne D’innocenzio, The Associated Press

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Inflation looms over shoppers heading into Black Friday

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