A Black man in a red hoodie sits at a Macbook scrolling through Walmart's website looking at Black Friday deals.
Erick Smith shops deals on Walmart's website after Black Friday in Kennesaw on Dec. 1, 2023. (Charyti Benjamin/Fresh Take Georgia)

Sales for the holiday season continue to grow despite increased gas prices, higher interest rates, and inflation. Consumers are focusing their efforts on smarter ways to save their money by online shopping and taking advantage of flexible payment plans. 

With the Friday after Thanksgiving kicking off holiday season shopping, buyers started buying their holiday gifts. Promotions and sales accounted for a 55% average of all post-Thanksgiving weekend shopping, up 3% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Consumers set a new record for 2023 Black Friday sales, spending $9.8 billion compared with last year, a 9.8% increase, according to Adobe Analytics, which monitors data through Adobe’s Experience Cloud service for e-commerce platforms. Despite this year’s increase in sales, one Georgia retailer said the number of Black Friday customers are still down compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Black Friday was definitely different this year. It was more packed in previous years before the pandemic,” said Walmart customer service associate Diamond Kellog. 

Kellog said so far this year, online sales are beating in-store purchases in volume and sales. 

Shoppers often focus on making their money stretch by utilizing early discounts and deals. Promotional events before the pre-holiday season, such as the second Prime Day, attracted customers to shop early in an effort to save money, according to Adobe Analytics. Some consumers began their holiday shopping in October. According to Adobe Analytics, in October 2023 buyers spent $76.8 billion online compared to October 2022, when they spent $72.5 billion. This year top-selling items include toys, electronics, and apparel. 

Despite the push for deeper discounts during this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, some customers have their own holiday season shopping strategies. Walmart customer Michelle Wilson says she did not go out of her way to participate in any Black Friday deals. Instead, she went to TJ Maxx and Marshalls because she frequently shops there, and this year was the first time she didn’t search for deals and discounts. 

“I couldn’t find what I wanted after all that advertisement, and I still didn’t get anything that was for me,” Wilson said. “No I’m not an online shopper, I have to touch it, I have to feel it, I have to see what I like.” 

Not all customers enjoy online shopping and avoided Cyber Monday. 

“I prefer in-person shopping because when I shop online, I can’t physically feel the stuff, like try it on or fit it against me, because I don’t want to go through the hustle and bustle of trying to return things,” said Target customer Miya Mayfield. 

She feels as though the sales “weren’t that great this year.” Mayfield said she thought many deals were not deeply discounted enough. 

Experts estimate that 2023 holiday retail spending is set to reach between $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion compared to 2022’s $929.5 billion, an expected 3% to 4% increase, according to the National Retail Federation and US Census Bureau

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