Retailers May See More Red After Black Friday as Consumers Say They Plan to Put Pull Back on Spending-Acting as if the US Were Already in a Recession

Retailers are gearing up for another blockbuster holiday shopping season, but consumers burned by the highest inflation in a generation may have other ideas.

Industry groups are predicting another record year of retail sales, with the National Retail Federation forecasting a jump of 6% to 8% over the US$890 billion consumers spent online and in stores in November and December of 2021.

But Jeff Bezos, founder and chairman of the biggest retailer of them all, seems to be anticipating a much less festive holiday for businesses. In November 2022, Amazon said it is laying off 10,000 workers, one of several big companies announcing job cuts recently. Bezos even cautioned consumers to hold off on big purchases like cars, televisions and appliances to save in case of a recession in 2023.

Results from our new survey suggest consumers appear to be already taking Bezos’ advice, as a combination of soaring consumer prices, rising borrowing costs and growing odds of a recession weighs on their wallets. And if our survey results do pan out, it may mean the recession everyone’s worried about happens sooner than expected.

Crisis behaviors

We conducted our survey in mid-November, about a week before Black Friday, the historical start of the holiday shopping season. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it signals the period when retailers hope to sell enough goods so that their income statement shows “black,” or profit, for the year rather than “red,” which refers to losses.

We asked over 500 consumers a series of questions about

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