Retailers Increase Black Friday Discounts to Attract Cautious Shoppers Seeking the Best Deals

by Lucas Garcia
Black Friday Discounts

On Black Friday, throngs of bargain-hungry shoppers flocked to malls as retailers upped their discount game and offered enticing incentives to attract cost-conscious customers who are adhering to stricter budgets this year.

Consumers find themselves under mounting financial pressure as their savings diminish and credit card debt accumulates. While there has been some relief from easing inflation, the costs of essential goods and services such as meat and rent remain significantly higher than they were just three years ago.

Yvonne Carey, aged 72, was among the first customers at Macy’s Herald Square store in Manhattan. She seized the opportunity to purchase discounted Michael Kors slippers and Ugg boots for herself. However, Carey has resolved to adhere to the same $1,000 budget as last year as she shops for gifts for her six grandchildren and her husband.

“The prices are exorbitant for everything, be it food or clothing,” remarked Carey.

Many retailers have taken a cautious approach this holiday season by ordering fewer goods and initiating holiday sales earlier in October compared to the previous year, aiming to help shoppers manage their spending over a more extended period. The trend of early shopping gained momentum during the pandemic, driven by supply chain disruptions in 2021, compelling people to make purchases ahead of time. However, this year, retailers report that more shoppers are honing in on deals and opting to wait until the eleventh hour.

At Macy’s Herald Square store, eager shoppers poured in as soon as the doors swung open at 6 a.m., discovering discounts ranging from 40% to 50% on boots, shoes, and handbags. Even diamond jewelry received a substantial markdown of 60%.

Macy’s CEO, Jeff Gennette, observed that the crowds at Herald Square and other locations exceeded those of the previous year, although he refrained from disclosing specific figures.

In the face of competition from the travel and restaurant sectors, Macy’s has elevated the experiential aspect of shopping this season. At Herald Square, the Disney Princess shop features augmented reality, allowing young enthusiasts to virtually step into their favorite princess dresses.

Gennette remarked, “Customers are feeling the pinch. This is evident in the luxury segment, a recent development. Shoppers across all income levels are becoming more discerning about how they allocate their budgets.”

Retail giants like Best Buy and Kohl’s are also adapting their strategies. Best Buy is focusing on offering more items at opening price points, while Kohl’s has simplified its deals, highlighting items priced below a certain threshold, such as $25.

Target has observed that shoppers are waiting longer before making purchases. Despite consumers’ resilience, Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell, emphasized that “uncertainty, caution, and budget management are top concerns.”

While the Black Fridays of years past saw customers queuing for hours in the middle of the night and occasional scuffles over high-demand items, the tradition of Black Friday shopping remains cherished by many. Macy’s at Herald Square was bustling by mid-morning.

“I love doing it. I stay up the whole night just waiting for this day,” exclaimed Lisa Brooks, a 45-year-old nurse from the Bronx, who was at Macy’s early on the hunt for perfume, socks, and other items for herself and her mother.

Samuel Alvez, aged 44, and his wife embarked on 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, although Alvez expressed disappointment with the discounts.

“In the past, they used to have these fantastic in-store deals,” lamented Alvez. “Now, we don’t see that anymore.”

In Europe, the UNI Global Union organized “Make Amazon Pay” strikes and protests in 30 countries on the busiest shopping day of the year, marking the fourth year of their Black Friday campaign against the online retail giant. Over 1,000 workers picketed outside the Amazon warehouse in Coventry, northwest of London, as part of a long-standing dispute over pay, as reported by the GMB union. Amazon assured customers that the strike would not impact its operations.

On Thanksgiving Day, when major retailers like Macy’s and Kohl’s were closed, consumers spent $5.6 billion online, a 5.5% increase compared to the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online spending. For the first 23 days of November, online spending reached $76.7 billion, up 6.8% from the same period in the previous year. Online sales on Black Friday are projected to reach $9.6 billion, a 5.7% increase from the previous year, according to Adobe.

The National Retail Federation, the largest retail trade group in the United States, anticipates higher spending this year compared to the previous year, albeit at a slower pace due to prevailing economic uncertainties.

Online discounts are expected to be more attractive than the previous year, particularly for toys, electronics, and clothing, as predicted by Adobe. It forecasts an average discount of 35% for toys, up from 22% the previous year, and a 30% reduction in electronics, compared to 27% last year. In the clothing category, shoppers can expect an average discount of 25%, up from 19% the previous year.

Industry analysts regard the five-day Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber Monday, as a crucial indicator of consumer willingness to spend. Sensormatic Solutions, a firm specializing in store traffic analysis, predicts that Black Friday will once again be the busiest shopping day of the year.

Marshal Cohen, Chief Retail Adviser at Circana, a market research firm, who visited 11 different malls in South Florida on Friday, commented, “Stores are bustling, but there is no frenzy.” Shoppers are adhering to their shopping lists and do not appear overly enthusiastic about the available discounts.

This article was authored by Alexandra Olson in New York, Haleluya Hadero in Germantown, Maryland, and Courtney Bonnell in London.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Black Friday Discounts

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is a widely recognized shopping event characterized by significant discounts and deals offered by retailers. It traditionally takes place the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, signaling the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Why are retailers increasing their discounts on Black Friday?

Retailers are increasing their discounts on Black Friday to attract cautious shoppers who are facing budget constraints and economic uncertainties. With consumers feeling financial pressure due to rising costs and credit card debt, retailers are offering more enticing deals to entice them into making purchases.

How has consumer behavior changed on Black Friday?

Consumer behavior on Black Friday has evolved. While in the past, customers would line up for hours in stores, recent trends show that shoppers are becoming more discerning and focused on seeking out the best deals. Many are also waiting until the last minute to make their purchases.

What strategies are retailers adopting to cope with changing consumer behavior?

Retailers are adjusting their strategies to accommodate changing consumer behavior. This includes ordering fewer goods for the holiday season, initiating holiday sales earlier in the year, offering more items at opening price points, and simplifying deals to make it easier for shoppers to find affordable options.

How are online sales impacting Black Friday?

Online sales have become a significant part of Black Friday shopping, with consumers increasingly turning to the internet to find deals. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday see substantial online spending, with discounts offered in various categories, such as toys, electronics, and clothing.

What are the expectations for Black Friday sales this year?

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to rise by 3% to 4% compared to the previous year. Although this growth is slower than in previous years, it reflects the ongoing economic uncertainties. Online discounts, particularly for toys, electronics, and clothing, are predicted to be more attractive than in the previous year.

How has the Black Friday tradition evolved over the years?

The Black Friday tradition has evolved from customers standing in long lines in the middle of the night to a more diverse and calculated shopping experience. While the frenzy of the past may have waned, Black Friday remains a cherished shopping tradition for many.

Are there any protests or strikes associated with Black Friday?

In some regions, such as Europe, labor unions have organized protests and strikes on Black Friday. The “Make Amazon Pay” campaign, for example, has seen workers picketing outside Amazon warehouses, highlighting labor disputes and concerns over pay.

How does the changing retail landscape impact Black Friday?

The changing retail landscape, including the rise of e-commerce and evolving consumer preferences, has led retailers to adapt their strategies to remain competitive. The focus on discounts and online shopping has become more pronounced in response to these changes.

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Reader007 November 24, 2023 - 8:04 pm

Wow, this artcl on Blk Fri is super info, I got all I ned to kno! Grt job!

ShoppingQueen November 25, 2023 - 10:15 am

Luv how they talk abt chnging shopper habits, vry intrstng!

BizAnalyst22 November 25, 2023 - 11:53 am

NRF expctn is a big point, slowr grwth, but it mkes sense, given all the crazyness!

EconGeek November 25, 2023 - 12:40 pm

Rlly intrestng how online shoppin is takin ovr, and the discounts too, can’t wait for BF!

Activist4Life November 25, 2023 - 5:41 pm

Those strikes and protests, we gotta supprt wrkrs’ rights, man!


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