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On Black Friday, here's how holiday shoppers feel about inflation, the supply chain and inventory

Key Points
  • 52% of Americans said they won't go shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, while 59% said they are not excited to go shopping on any of the three days, according to a new CNBC/Momentive survey.
  • While the number of people expected to shop over the holiday weekend is expected to increase year-over-year, the projections are down from 2019.
  • Still, holiday shopping spending is expected to increase.
Toys are seen at a Target store on October 25, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Despite high sales expectations for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, just over half of American consumers don't plan to shop on some of the biggest days for deals during the holiday season.

Fifty-two percent of Americans said they won't go shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, while 59% said they are not excited to go shopping on any of the three days, according to a CNBC/Momentive Small Business Survey for Small Business Saturday. The survey was conductive by Momentive from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12 and included 2,744 respondents.

An estimated 158.3 million people will shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, an increase of 2 million people compared to 2020, according to the National Retail Federation. However, that would be down 4.2% compared to the number of people that shopped over that period in 2019.

Amid a holiday shopping season noticeably different than previous years impacted by pandemic trends and new habits like curbside pickup, labor shortages, and supply chain issues, here is what Americans are saying about how they plan to shop on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday grows as online shopping does

Of the people who plan to go shopping over the holiday weekend, 20% say they are expecting to spend the most money on Cyber Monday, up from 16% in 2019. In comparison, fewer people say they will spend the most money on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday in 2021 compared to 2019.

Forty-six percent of people said they generally prefer to do their shopping online, compared to 39% in 2019, according to the survey.

"The pandemic might firmly establish a new dynamic that we have been moving towards for the past few years: Cyber Monday is the new Black Friday, with more people searching for deals online rather than waiting in line outside a big box retailer," Laura Wronski, senior manager of research science at Momentive, wrote in an email.

Online spending is expected to top $200 billion over the holiday season for the first time this year, according to data from Adobe Analytics, growing 10% year-over-year to $207 billion.

Inflation and supply chain concerns

Worries about getting gifts and how much you'll have to pay for them are weighing on the minds of shoppers.

Seventy-two percent of Americans polled said they have seen higher prices in the last three months, while 62% said they have seen low or out-of-stock inventory. Overall, 43% said they were worried that supply chain issues will hurt their ability to get what they want during the holiday shopping season.

With more retailers pushing out holiday deals earlier in the season as well as stressing buying early to avoid shipping or inventory issues, it appears shoppers have followed that guidance. Sixty-one percent of shoppers say they already started shopping at the start of November, and 46% said they started earlier this year, according to the NRF. Twenty-eight percent of people even said they completed their shopping by early November, according to the NRF.

VIDEO2:2902:29
Consumers are buying now at higher prices before holiday items disappear: Jan Kniffen

Gen Z bucks shopping trends

While other age groups have seemingly moved away from Black Friday, Gen Z has leaned in.

Forty-one percent of the Gen Z respondents to the CNBC/Momentive survey said they were most excited to shop on Black Friday, far ahead of any other generation, according to Wronski, while 34% said they expected to spend the most money on Black Friday, which outpaced other generations.

"They might have less buying power than older adults, but they're the most eager to spend their money," Wronski said. "Gen Z might be the reason enthusiasm for in-person shopping has recovered post-pandemic."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger shoppers are expected to use non-traditional payment methods compared to older generations. Among survey respondents aged 18-34, 26% said they were going to use digital or mobile wallets like Paypal, Apple Pay, or Venmo, 12% said they would use "buy now, pay later" options offered by companies like Affirm and Klarna, and 5% said they would use cryptocurrency. In comparison, among those aged 35-64, just 18% said they would use digital or mobile wallets, 6% said they would use BNPL services and 2% said they would use cryptocurrency.