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Black Friday sales launch holiday season as shoppers squeezed by inflation

The holiday shopping season kicks off unofficially with Black Friday, but post-Thanksgiving crowds are expected to be watching every dollar this year as continued high inflation threatens their buying power.

The National Retail Federation projects holiday sales to grow 6 percent to 8 percent, down from a strong 13.5 percent last year and possibly marking a decline after adjusting for inflation. Recent data has shown that Americans are increasingly holding out for big discounts, or replacing luxury goods with less expensive alternatives. Shoppers also are more likely to choose "buy now, pay later" options this year and pay in installments, according to The Associated Press.

Analysts typically watch Black Friday weekend, which also includes Cyber Monday, as a "key barometer" of consumers' "willingness to spend," AP notes. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas constitutes roughly 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales.  

Meanwhile, in quite the contrast, thousands of Amazon warehouse workers are striking and walking out of their jobs on Friday as part of a larger "Make Amazon Pay" campaign. Demonstrations are planned in more than 30 countries, including the U.S., India, Japan, and multiple in Europe, per The Hill.

"We are workers and citizens divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet," the campaign website states.