Holiday shopping kicks off with inflation dampening spirits

NEW YORK (AP) — While Black Friday will mark a return to familiar holiday shopping patterns, uncertainty still remains. The U.S. job market remains strong, consumer spending is resilient and inflation has been slowing. But elevated prices for food, rent, gasoline and other household costs have taken a toll on shoppers. As a result, many are reluctant to spend unless there is a big sale and are being more selective with what they will buy — in many cases, trading down to cheaper stuff and less expensive stores. Shoppers are also dipping more into their savings, turning increasingly to “buy now, pay later” services, as well as running up their credit cards. Such financial hardships could help drive shoppers to look for bargains.

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