Will Inflation Make Black Friday a Bust?

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Around the country, retailers are getting ready for the biggest shopping occasion of the year: Black Friday. But during these times of roaring inflation, the question must be asked: Will this seminal retail holiday weather the economic storm — or will it be hit hard?

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Additionally, how can consumers trim costs on their Black Friday shopping sprees, if indeed they can afford such sprees at all

People Will Spend Less on the Holidays This Year 

According to a new survey from Ally, 32% of respondents say their spending on Black Friday/Cyber Monday will be lower this year than last year, and 49% say holiday shopping is less important to them this year than it has been in the past.  

Separate research from Digital River found that 38% of consumers plan to spend less at Christmas this year.

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That’s not all. 

“Our research shows that 83% of shoppers say that inflation is impacting their planned holiday purchases,” said Val Greer, CCO of Bread Financial. “This is particularly apparent among Gen Z (88%) and millennials (87%). Inflation continues to be top of mind for shoppers as it continues to materially impact the prices they are paying for everyday items, particularly food. This is driving a core need to save in other, more discretionary areas like holiday. Thus, shoppers will be watching for deals, sales and shopping around for the best prices this year.” 

Black Friday Still Will Happen, But Consumers Will Be Extra Savvy 

Retailers are absolutely not about to let inflation dampen their big plans for Black Friday — especially not with the big bad wolf known as Amazon Prime Day on the immediate horizon. 

But that doesn’t mean consumers will fall in line. 

“Many consumers will let inflation and the looming recession impact the way they plan to shop for the coming holiday,” said Jonathan Silver, CEO of Affinity Solutions, which tracks consumer purchasing habits. “To save money on holiday purchases, they will likely plan to shop more aggressively for deals and sales, limit the people they buy gifts for, and plan to shop more frequently online to save on gas. Retailers will need to continue to rely heavily on promotions, as they’ve been doing throughout the year, to help claw back spending fears as a result of inflation.” 

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How To Save on Black Friday 

Whether Black Friday — and other sales events leading up to the holidays — can prosper depends on whether consumers bite the bait and make the buys. To safely do that amid inflation, shoppers will need to not only be lured in by splashy, worthwhile sales, but also implement their own smart spending practices. 

Plan Ahead

“This is just a good way to know whether or not you’re getting a good deal, and if you know you’re getting a good deal then you don’t have to worry about overspending on something when you shouldn’t,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with Deal News. “Make a list of items you’re interested in and go ahead and check what the current prices are so that when deals start rolling out you’ll be able to better tell at a glance if they’re good or not.”

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Join Loyalty Programs

“If there’s a free loyalty program, go ahead and sign up as these are usually good ways to receive exclusive offers and sometimes savings tailored specifically to your shopping habits,” Ramhold said. 

Sign Up for Newsletters

“This is a good way to find out ahead of time about promotions your favorite retailers will be running,” Ramhold said, “and you may even be able to take advantage of exclusive offers for subscribers as well.” 

Shop Around

“While many retailers will probably have similar pricing, some may still end up being better places to shop given extra perks,” Ramhold said. “For instance, if you’re a frequent Kohl’s shopper, you may find that the values are better there because of Kohl’s Cash that you earn with your purchase. Or, if you have a Target RedCard, you may be able to save an extra 5% on a product even though it’s priced the same at stores like Best Buy and Walmart.

“Be sure to look beyond the price being charged for the items you’re interested in; and, if you have rebates, gift cards, or store credit, be sure to actually redeem and use those to ensure you get the full value of the deal.”

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