Small crowds of inflation-weary consumers looked for Black Friday deals at stores in big cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other locales, ushering in the start of a U.S. holiday shopping season vital to retailers in an uncertain economy.
Most shoppers who opened their wallets said their purchases were planned, not impulsive or splurges.
“We’ve been waiting” for discounts, said Tulio Rose, 28, who bought a big-screen TV at a Best Buy store in Los Angeles, while shopping with Barnisha Nill, 35. They saved almost $500 on the 85-inch (2.16-meter) Samsung TV for their new apartment.
Nearly 166 million people were preparing to make purchases from Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday through this coming “Cyber Monday,” according to the National Retail Federation, and around 8 million more from 2021. But with inconsistent rain in various parts of the country, stores were less busy than usual on Black Friday.
Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser of the NPD Group Inc, said:
“Usually at this time of the year you struggle to find parking. This year, I haven’t had an issue getting a parking spot.”
“It’s a lot of social shopping, everybody is only looking to get what they need. There is no sense of urgency,” Cohen added, based on his store checks in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.
At the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, there were no queues outside stores. A Toys ‘R’ Us employee was passing out flyers with a list of the Black Friday “door buster” promotions.
Those who arrived at the mall were amazed at the deals.
“There’s a lot of deals that weren’t advertised. Some of the stores I got 50% off everything I bought,” said Christine Chavez, 45. She added that she is mainly gift shopping and purchased items from Torrid and Victoria’s Secret.
“I was hesitant to come to the mall, and I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised,” Chavez added.
Most shoppers searching for Apple’s (AAPL.O) latest high-end phones went back empty-handed from its stores as the technology company grapples with production snafus in China.
At a Dollar Tree (DLTR.O) store in Rockville, Maryland, shoppers said they were searching for specific items or shopping for household items like sodas and dish sponges.
J.R. Moran, 49, grabbed strands of red and green tinsel and felt antlers, which he intended to use for an “ugly sweater.” But he said he would shop for other holiday supplies online.
“Online shopping is more convenient nowadays,” Moran said.
Online sales will range between $9 billion and $9.2 billion this Black Friday, according to a report from Adobe Analytics. The forecast is slightly ahead of the company’s previous projection of $9 billion, which would represent a slight 1% rise from 2021.
According to Adobe, U.S. shoppers spent almost 3% more online on Thanksgiving Day with purchases made on mobile phones causing the rise. Adobe Analytics, which measures e-commerce by monitoring transactions at websites, has access to data covering purchases at 85% of the leading 100 internet retailers in the United States.
Americans, particularly from low-income households, are expected to draw back this year as inflation and rising energy prices squeeze spending power. Europe’s retailers face an intensifying cost-of-living crisis and the distraction of the soccer World Cup.
Retailers are giving steep discounts both online and in stores, which may squeeze profit margins in the current quarter.
Consulting firm Kearney said its checks indicated apparel retailers were the busiest with sales, offering as much as 60% off on merchandise. TV sets and electronics also carried strong discounts to attract consumers who have been tightening their belts.Buy Bitcoin Now
Walmart (WMT.N) increased marketing for the holiday, buying ad space on Instagram and Twitter, during National Football League games, and on billboards near New York City’s Penn Station.
Amazon (AMZN.O) was offering too many deals, including up to 45% off on Calvin Klein men’s T-shirts, 42% off on Roomba vacuums, and up to 50% off on Chromebooks from HP, Lenovo, Acer, and ASUS.
“It’s hard to tell how Black Friday is panning out so far,” said Michael Brown, a partner at Kearney. “We have to look at the whole holiday season. The slowness in purchasing might get pushed out to Cyber Monday or further.”
Black Friday is expected to fetch $9 billion from online sales, a slight increase of 1% from 2021, with customers now swarming at brick-and-mortar stores after a COVID-19 pandemic-led pause over the last two years.