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Retailers headed into last year’s Black Friday with gritted teeth. Profit margins were down, due to inflation, excess inventory, and customers having grown accustomed to steep discounts. The Wall Street Journal collected the pre–Black Friday thoughts of a handful of executives, who sounded very much like they were steadying themselves to really just get through it. “We are definitely focused on prioritizing clean inventories. We know that if we end the season clean, it will enable us to start 2023 on a very solid footing,” said Bath & Body Works CFO Wendy Arlin, for one example. Well, color everyone happily surprised—Black Friday 2022 was a major hit! Steep discounts and buy-now-pay-later plans seemingly got consumers spending, and spending some more, such that online sales were up 2.3 percent compared with 2021. Online shoppers thus spent a record $9.12 billion. Some 196.7 million consumers shopped online and in stores between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, making this a very happy holiday for retailers, after all.

Sources: Q.ai, “Black Friday Sales Numbers Hit Record Highs Despite Fears of Recession,” Forbes, December 4, 2022; Jordan Valinsky, “Online Black Friday Sales Set a New Record,” CNN, November 28, 2022; Kristin Broughton, “Retailers’ Holiday Discounts Are Steeper this Year, CFOs Say,” The Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2022