The United States welcomes Black Friday in light of the third year of the pandemic

NEW YORK, Nov. 25 (XINHUA) — Millions of Americans are expected to flock to physical stores the Friday after Thanksgiving as the COVID-19 pandemic eases and people return to pre-pandemic habits, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday .

This is the opposite of what happened in the last couple of years, when people were largely stuck in their homes and shopping online more. But this year, many household budgets are suffering from rising gas and food prices, according to the report.

With many stores closed for Thanksgiving, retailers are preparing for big crowds on Friday. Sales, excluding car dealerships, are expected to rise 15% since Black Friday last year, according to the report, which cites MasterCard Spending Plus.

“This is the closest thing to a regular Black Friday we’ve seen in many years,” said Stephen Leibovitz, CEO of CBL & Associates Malls.

The report pointed out that many retailers began offering steep discounts in October to offload excess inventory as supply chain bottlenecks eased, but the offers weren’t enough to attract some shoppers as worries about inflation and the economy continued to grow.

“In addition to the continued impact of inflation, consumer attitudes have also come under pressure from higher borrowing costs, lower asset values ​​and weaker job market prospects,” said Joanne Hsu, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan.

Weak season

Americans have been heading to malls and supermarkets to shop in hopes of snagging deals on Black Friday in what could be a defining moment for retailers, who are already preparing for a slower shopping season, it reported. the Washington Post on Friday.

“Although the significance of that day has diminished as it turned into a months-long marketing exercise, merchants of all sizes are actively preparing,” the report said.

Analysts and industry experts have warned that Black Friday could be toned down somewhat this year. Upfront and higher sales, while beneficial to strategic buyers, hurt retailers whose profits are impacted by excess inventories, increased labor and other overhead costs, according to the report.

“On the other hand, consumers are showing signs of fatigue after facing decades-high inflation for much of the year,” the report said, noting that October’s price increase of 7.7% was still well above normal levels and much lower than expected by analysts. . .

And opinion polls have indicated that even the wealthiest Americans are feeling the pressure, adding that they continue to buy, but choose less expensive options.

– Iqbal in Chicago

Despite inflation, the average person in Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, is projected to spend $1,700 on holiday shopping programs this year, up 22 percent from last year, according to a survey on the US. holiday retail.

A survey released earlier this month by Deloitte Chicago showed shoppers intend to buy fewer gifts.

And Deloitte’s 2022 Vacation Retail Sales Survey revealed that 37% of American households said their financial situation is worse than last year.

Keeping inflation in mind, consumers are eager for retailers to offer deals and plan to spend 50 percent of their holiday shopping budgets on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday.

Meanwhile, data from business consultancy Accenture shows Chicagoans are expected to spend US$719 on travel, food and shopping during the holiday season in November and December this year, a 19.3% increase from at an expense of $580 in 2021.

Nationwide, retail sales during the November-December 2022 holiday season are expected to rise 6% to 8% over 2021 record sales of $889.3 billion, setting a new high between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion US dollars, according to data from the National Federation of Commerce.

Data from the federation also shows that Americans expect to spend about $832 per capita on gifts, food and decorations in 2022, in line with the 10-year average spend of $826 and lower than the average spend of $879 in 2021.

clear gap

The disproportionate burden of inflation placed on the U.S. poor is one reason the Federal Reserve is scrambling to recoup rapidly from price hikes, The New York Times reported Friday.

“The situation confirms a bleak reality in the pandemic era,” the report said, adding that “many of these (poor) families are heading towards a state of increased vulnerability that prevailed before the pandemic.”

In Boston, Massachusetts, the super-wealthy have made reservations at The Langham Hotel, and a $135-per-adult Thanksgiving lunch at its in-house restaurant sold out weeks ago.

On the other hand, many families line up outside a local charity around 4:30 to get their share of free meals and turkey. This comes four hours before the assembly is due to open its doors, according to the report.

The report noted that “the discrepancy illustrates a gap that extends to the turbulent US economy after nearly three years of a pandemic.”

He said many affluent consumers still have savings and are performing well financially, which supports luxury brands and keeps some high-end retailers and travel companies optimistic about the holiday season.

Meanwhile, America’s poor are low on cash reserves, struggling to keep up with rising prices, and face higher borrowing costs if they use credit cards or loans to make ends meet. /ts/

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