Black Friday sales and deals could disappoint this year

Holiday shoppers beware: Black Friday deals are going to be disappointing.

According to Adobe Inc., seasonal discounts on electronics, sporting goods and home appliances are all significantly lower than last year, amid tight inventories, robust consumer spending and rising inflation. rise. The tools and home improvement category is even less attractive so far, with no holiday bargains, based on Adobe’s comparison of online price changes in 2020 and 2021 between Oct. 1 and Oct. November 6.

“You’re not going to find your typical Black Friday deals,” said Gabriella Santaniello, founder of retail consultant A-Line Partners. “There is not enough inventory in the channel for anyone to promote meaningfully. You can just say goodbye.

During the pandemic, retailers cut discounts because supply chain issues drove inventory down. And now, in its most important shopping season, the industry is betting it can offset inflation with fewer transactions without hurting demand.

The risk with this strategy is that consumers spend less amid lackluster promotions and an increase in out-of-stock products. In October, online shoppers saw more than 2 billion out-of-stock messages, Adobe said. This is an increase of 250% compared to the previous October and 325% compared to October 2019.

“It’s probably going to be one of the least promotional times you’ve seen in quite some time,” said Brian Yarbrough, retail analyst at Edward Jones. “You have inventory issues and you have a demand picture that is one of the strongest in many years. Even with a lot of these trades, they are no longer the margin killers they used to be.

Of course, dedicated shoppers will still find bargains online and in stores, before and after Thanksgiving celebrations across the United States on Thursday. Retailers have trained consumers to expect seasonal deals, and many companies will fear losing market share without some sweeteners to lure shoppers.

“If you had a sale last year, it’s pretty risky not to do it again,” said Marshal Cohen, senior industry adviser at researcher NPD Group. “What is the difference this year? It won’t last that long. »

Similar to last year, retailers have started seasonal promotions early and the internet is teeming with holiday shopping tips. Discounts are bigger than last year in computers and toys, and in line with 2020 levels in TVs and furniture, Adobe said.

Walmart Inc. is picking up a month-long sales event from last year called Black Friday Deals for Days, touting special prices on air fryers, televisions, Lego sets and trampolines. Amazon.com and other shopping websites advertise discounts on similar products.

Target Corp. launched “Black Friday Advance Savings” on October 31 with discounts on items like wireless headphones, laptops and coffee makers. The company will offer new deals each week advertised as “Holiday Best”, indicating the lowest expected price for the holiday season.

Best Buy Co. introduces Apple Inc. AirPods deals to a cordless vacuum cleaner. The company launched additional promotions on November 19, a week before the traditional Black Friday.

Beyond the headlines and glowing press releases, however, the retail industry is eyeing a holiday season with smaller price drops.

“Retailers aren’t just going to give it away,” Santaniello said. “They may advertise it as an offer, but it won’t be satisfying at all” for buyers.

In an environment where “there are no discounts” at large retailers, smaller businesses and resellers such as ThredUp Inc. may also be less aggressive on pricing, said chief executive James Reinhart. The second-hand clothing seller is seeing strong demand for its cocktail dresses and handbags, which can usually be purchased for less than brand new products.

“Historically, you had to be so promotional during the holidays to compete with the aggressiveness of the big retail giants,” Reinhart said. “Now that they’re discounting less, it allows us to discount a little bit less.”

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