A tug of war is playing out between deal-hungry shoppers and retailers wary of giving them low prices on Black Friday.

New York

Let the shopping games begin.

Bargain hunters head to their favorite stores in person and online the day after Thanksgiving to score what they hope will be some of the best early deals of the year-end holiday period.

Are the early season deals tempting enough for shoppers or are they engaging in a game of cat and mouse with retailers?

Early shopping trends indicate that people were steadily making their way into stores on Black Friday, but not in a frenzy.

said Michael Brown, retail industry leader and partner at management consulting firm Kearney A much earlier start than usual for holiday sales This year could be the reason.

“Consumers are feeling a little overwhelmed because the season started early in October,” Brown said. While traffic was “good” at stores, Brown said Black Friday sales were averaging 25% to 30%.

“These are the promotion levels that retailers have planned. This is the opening offer. Shoppers will be waiting for better deals,” he said.

Emily Elconen/Getty Images

Shoppers stroll through Twelve Oaks Mall in Michigan on Black Friday 2023. The National Retail Federation predicts that an estimated 182 million plan to shop in-store and online over Thanksgiving weekend.

“So far, the magic number is 25% off. Consumers are looking for the best and not showing a sense of urgency,” said Marshal Cohen, senior retail industry analyst at market research firm Circana.

“It feels like a shopping day in the middle of December instead of Black Friday,” he said. “Shopping doesn’t mean they’re buying. People are browsing and looking at deals.

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One of their best-selling items: video game consoles. “These products are selling quickly,” Cohen said.

Also among the quick sales — at least online — are toys, jewelry and clothing, according to Adobe Analytics data. Online sales on Thanksgiving hit a record $5.6 billion, up 5.5% from last year, as people eagerly turned to their mobile phones to browse deals and make purchases after holiday dinner, Adobe’s report said.

Disney’s Little People, Ono Sho No Mercy, Marvel superhero characters and Barbie dolls were among the most popular toys purchased, the report said.

Retailers hope they have correctly predicted the spending power of households in the midst of the 2023 holiday period, while shoppers expect their favorite store to go all out with deals to get them to open their wallets.

The day after Thanksgiving has historically marked the beginning of the year-end gift-buying frenzy that precedes Christmas. The gift buying months of November to December are crucial for retailers because the combined period can calculate for about 20% of their sales for an entire year.

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Customers wait in line before the store opens its Black Friday sales early in the morning outside Macy’s Herald Square on November 24, 2023 in New York, New York.

Holiday sales are expected to come in this year Softer Compared to last year. That’s because consumers have been internalizing a laundry list of pressures all year, including… Rising pricesre-start Paying off student loans, rising interest rates and mortgages.

But retailers also can’t afford to cut prices too dramatically and dry up their profits in the all-important year-end quarter. Plus, they’re in much better inventory positions this year than in 2022 when it comes to holiday merchandise, which means they don’t have to spot clearance-level deals from the get-go.

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At The Shops at La Cantera Mall in San Antonio, Texas, the parking lot was gradually filling up in the late morning.

“We opened today at 9 a.m., two hours earlier than our usual opening, and equally, traffic looked better than last year,” said Brian Schroeder, senior general manager of the mall, one of the mall’s more than 120 properties. Brookfield Properties, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management and the nation’s second-largest mall operator.

He said there was a whopping 25% off Black Friday deals across malls and an even bigger discount of up to 40% for early shoppers. “There were people lining up to get into stores like Lululemon, Kendra Scott, Nike and Apple,” he said.

While these brands don’t cut prices significantly on Black Friday, they are very popular with younger shoppers, he said. “They go to these stores before they get busy to see if there is something they are going to buy.”

Simon Property Group, the country’s largest mall operator, said Black Friday shoppers at its properties included families and many teenagers and young adults. Specialty retailers are promoting the biggest sales, she said. Aeropostale offered 60% to 70% off, and Forever 21 and Aritzia also got shoppers 50% off.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Shoppers wait in line to make purchases during Black Friday sales at the JCPenney department store at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, New York.

JCPenney opened its department stores at 5 a.m. on Black Friday “and I was getting reports of lines outside,” CEO Mark Rosen said.

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Rosen said he’s keenly aware of the financial constraints squeezing Penney’s core shoppers, who have an average household income of $75,000. “Saving money and creating value is very important to them,” he said. “We went into the season knowing they were facing inflation headwinds.”

The retailer is offering thousands of products for less than $15 and a special credit offer starting Dec. 1, he said.

“Beginning December 1, we will offer a credit promotion for a single total in-store purchase of $250 or more; we will offer six months off items charged to your JCPenney card, interest-free.”Customers will be able to pay in six installments Equal monthly. We help our clients in this matter to take a break from inflation.

Rosen said he was at Penney’s stores today and noticed how value-priced items were selling well.

“It’s towels for $2.99, our opening price, and small appliances like waffle makers and blenders for $14.99,” he said. “It shows that our customers are really leaning into where they find value. They’re saving their money and not necessarily going for what we call the best items as much as they used to.

Contributing: CNN’s Nathaniel Merson

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