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Black Fridays Sales Hit Record Highs – But Can Consumers Afford It?

Sales topped $9.12 billion on Black Friday this year, breaking previous records. However, some experts say more people are dipping into savings to bring home the deals.

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The holiday season has officially begun — and so has the shopping.

picture alliance | Getty Images

Despite rampant inflation and looming recession fears, Black Friday sales hit record highs this year, topping $9.12 billion on Friday alone, according to Adobe Analytics. The research found that sales were 2.3% higher than last year, with electronics, toys and apparel being the top categories for deal-hunters.

Additionally, where consumers sought Black Friday deals shifted from last year's pattern. Although Amazon was the most-searched retailer on Black Friday in 2021, the ecommerce giant actually came in fourth this year, according to technology company Captify, CNBC reported. Walmart took the lead this year and dominated search for those looking for the best Black Friday deals. After Walmart, retailers Target and Kohls were second and third, respectively, with Amazon coming in fourth, according to Captify.

Related: Online Scams Are More Sophisticated Than Ever. Here's How to Shop Safely on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, According to a Cyber Intelligence Expert.

However, big-box retailers weren't the only ones raking in record sales over Thanksgiving weekend. Shopify reported that its merchants broke records this Black Friday with $3.36 billion in sales.

"Black Friday Cyber Monday has grown into a full-on shopping season. The weekend that started it all is still one of the biggest commerce events of the year, and our merchants have broken Black Friday sales records again," Shopify president Harley Finkelstein said in a statement.

Although the solid spending at the start of the holiday season might signify consumer confidence, some analysts say that Americans have been dipping into savings and opting for "Buy Now, Pay Later" options to afford the purchases.

Related: Why Can't We Resist Black Friday and Cyber Monday? A Behavioral Economist Explains The Psychological Forces That Make Sales Irresistible.

"We're seeing a lot of people leaning on savings and debt to afford a lot of these purchases," Claire Tassin, Morning Consult's retail and ecommerce analyst, told CNN. "Even more than credit cards, we're seeing a lot of people leaning on 'Buy Now, Pay Later' services, which is sort of a newer form of debt that American consumers are really embracing."'

Nonetheless, Americans are eager to get back to holiday shopping. The National Retail Federation predicts that holiday sales will range between $942.6 and $960.4 billion, up to 8% higher than last year.

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