Shoppers walk through Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo mall on Black Friday.
Shoppers walk through Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo mall on Black Friday. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

With Thanksgiving now past, Black Friday marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season and deals — although many consumers may be spending less this year because of inflation and other economic concerns.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Summary, the total inflation rate as of the end of October was 7.7%, driving up costs of food, energy, rent and more.

“Against today’s economic backdrop, the National Retail Federation — the largest retail trade group — expects holiday sales growth will slow to a range of 6% to 8%, from the blistering 13.5% growth of a year ago,” AP News stated in a recent article. “However, these figures, which include online spending, aren’t adjusted for inflation, so real spending could even be down from a year ago.”

Several shoppers at Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo mall told Noozhawk on Friday that they were being more wary of their spending this year because of higher prices and coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re probably going to buy fewer gifts this year because of inflation,” shopper Robin Kait said, adding that she probably won’t even get a Christmas tree this year because of the higher cost.

Kait added that raised interest rates and inflation on housing and energy — which the Consumer Price Index showed to be at 17.6% in the 12 months ending in October — and concerns about the amount of work her husband would get were also affecting her family’s spending habits this year.

Others told Noozhawk that, because of inflation, they’re focusing less on gift giving and more on spending time with family.

“The mall has really been slow this year. We’re excited about Black Friday. It’s the most excitement we get,” said Elizabeth Helton, who was working at Dylan Star in Paseo Nuevo. “I myself have been shopping less. When I do shop, I definitely shop local.”

She also said that everything, even restaurants, has been slower lately.

Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo mall is decorated for Christmas.

Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo mall is decorated for Christmas. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

While many consumers say they’re buying less this year, local merchants remain optimistic and ready for the holidays.

“People want to get deals — people are being a little more wise with their spending,” Viva! Santa Barbara owner Rafael Martel said. “We expect to be busy all weekend. … We’re just happy we’re here.”

In addition to shopping deals, Friday also brought the start of several ongoing holiday events, such as Paseo Nuevo’s nightly snowfall at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., photos with Santa in the mall’s Center Court and the opening of Lane Farms Christmas Patch.

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.