Black Friday Shoppers Worry About Economy as Retailers Push Sales – The New York Times

On its website, the mall owner CBL highlighted the discounts that stores like H&M and the children’s apparel retailer Carter’s were offering. Other retailers employed a similar strategy in the days leading up to Black Friday. J. Crew on Monday advertised 50 percent off purchases. On Gap’s website, a large black banner scrolled atop the page saying “HPY BLK FRI” and highlighting 50 percent off deals with an additional 10 percent markdown.

There are risks for retailers, however, in relying more heavily on deals. The practice erodes profit margins that buoyed them during the pandemic, when many Americans spent plenty on all sorts of goods and retailers did not feel the need to entice them with too many deals. There are also worries that shoppers will become so accustomed to sales that they will only buy when promised a lower price.

“Consumers understanding that they can wait out discounts, coupled with retailers’ drive to move goods, likely means that this Black Friday will be more important than Black Friday has been in a long time,” Simeon Siegel, a managing director at BMO Capital Markets, said. “Whether that’s good for the brands, whether that’s good for the consumer — that’s a separate conversation.”

Retailers are also competing more with entertainment options, like concerts and dining out at restaurants, than they have in the past couple of years. Consumers are expected to allocate a larger share of their holiday spending on experiences this year compared with last. The average amount that middle-income Americans, who make between $50,000 to $99,000 annually, spend on experiences is expected to increase 15 percent this year, according to a survey released in October from Deloitte.

Of course, not every retailer places so much importance on Black Friday.

The outdoor equipment retailer REI has remained closed on the day since 2015. This year, the company said it had decided to permanently give its workers a paid day off on Black Friday, encouraging them to spend time outside instead.

But that was the exception. Even while the total sales for Black Friday were still being tallied, many retailers were already looking to further entice shoppers by rolling out advertisements for more discounts on Monday.

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