Expect deep discounts and other incentives to attract shoppers to stores for Black Friday. But retailers fear that won’t be enough.
NEW YORK (AP) — Bargain-seeking shoppers filled malls and stores on Black Friday as retailers stepped up their discounts to attract customers who are sticking to stricter budgets this year and resist impulse purchases.
Consumers are under pressure as their savings dwindle and their credit card debt rises. Although they have received some relief from falling inflation, many goods and services like meat and rent are still much higher than they were three years ago.
Yvonne Carey, 72, was among the first shoppers at Macy’s Herald Square store in Manhattan, where she picked up discounted Michael Kors slippers and Ugg boots. But Carey said she plans to stick to the same $1,000 budget as last year to buy gifts for her six grandchildren and husband.
“The prices are crazy on everything food and clothing,” Carey said.
Many retailers ordered fewer products this holiday season and pushed holiday sales earlier in October than last year to help shoppers spread their spending. The early buying trend accelerated during the pandemic, when supply network obstructions in 2021 prompted people to buy early. But this year, retailers said more shoppers are focusing on bargains and waiting until the last minute.
At Macy’s Herald Square store, shoppers began streaming in shortly after the doors opened at 6 a.m., finding discounts of between 40% and 50% off on boots, shoes and handbags. Diamond jewelry received a 60% discount.
Facing competition from travel and dining, Macy’s has ramped up experiential shopping this season. In Herald Square, the Disney Princess store had augmented reality allowing delighted young people to virtually put on one of the princess dresses.
“The customer is under pressure. You see it with what’s happening in luxury. “This is a recent development,” Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said in an interview with The Associated Press, adding that shoppers at all income levels are “more discerning about how they spend their budget.
About 12,000 customers showed up at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., in the first hour it opened at 7 a.m., 20 percent more than last year, said Jill Renslow, executive vice president of the commercial development and marketing of the shopping center.
She said the discounts are about on par with a year ago and she expects sales to increase 3 to 4 percent at the mall.
Gone are the Black Fridays of years ago, where customers waited in line for hours in the middle of the night or fights broke out over high-demand items. However, Black Friday shopping remains a cherished tradition for many.
“I love doing it. I stay up all night waiting for this day,” said Lisa Brooks, 45, a nurse from the Bronx who went to Macy’s early in search of perfume, socks and other items for her and her mother. .
Samuel Alvez, 44, and his wife ventured out to do Black Friday shopping for the first time in years. At a Walmart in Germantown, Maryland, the couple purchased two computer monitors and a pressure cooker, but left disappointed with the discounts.
“Back then, they had great deals in the stores,” Alvez said. “Now we don’t see that anymore.”
The scene Friday was similarly calm in other areas.
At Westfield Garden State Mall in Paramus, N.J., on Friday, “traffic was good, but it wasn’t the opening doors of years past,” said Michael Brown, America’s retail leader. within a global strategy and management consulting firm. Kearney who visited the mall.
In Europe, UNI Global Union said it had organized “Make Amazon Pay” strikes and protests in 30 countries, the fourth year of its Black Friday campaign against the online retail giant. More than 1,000 workers protested outside Amazon’s warehouse in Coventry, a city northwest of London, in a long-running dispute over pay, the union said. Amazon said the strike would not affect customers.
Consumers spent $5.6 billion on Thanksgiving Day, when most department stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s closed their doors and shoppers focused on online shopping, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks spending online. This represents an increase of 5.5% compared to a year ago. During the first 23 days of November, consumers spent $76.7 billion online, up 6.8% from the same period last year. Black Friday online sales are expected to bring in $9.6 billion, up 5.7% from the same period last year, Adobe said.
The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects shoppers to spend more this year than last, but that their pace will slow.
The group expects U.S. holiday sales to increase 3% to 4% from November to December, compared to 5.4% growth a year ago. The forecast is consistent with the average annual vacation increase of 3.6% between 2010 and 2019, before the pandemic. Americans have increased their spending during the pandemic, with money in their pockets thanks to federal relief checks and nowhere to go during lockdowns.
Online discounts are expected to be better than a year ago, especially on toys, electronics and clothing, according to Adobe. It predicts that toys will see an average reduction of 35%, compared to 22% a year ago, while electronics are expected to see reductions of 30%, compared to 27% last year. In the clothing sector, shoppers will receive an average discount of 25%, compared to 19% last year.
Analysts view the five-day Black Friday weekend – which includes the Monday following the holiday known as Cyber Monday – as a key barometer of shoppers’ willingness to spend.
Black Friday is, as usual, expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year, according to Sensormatic Solutions, which tracks store traffic.
But many shoppers are sticking to their lists and don’t seem excited about the discounts available, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail advisor at Circana, a market research firm, who visited 11 centers on Friday. different businesses in South Florida.
“The stores are buzzing, but there’s no frenzy,” Cohen said.
Associated Press writer Alexandra Olson in New York, Haleluya Hadero in Germantown, Maryland, and Courtney Bonnell in London contributed to this story.
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