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Expand chart
Reproduced from an Experian chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

More Americans say they are worried about a recession next year and are getting more cautious about their spending habits and debt, but that didn't slow down their holiday shopping.

Driving the news: Data from Adobe Analytics shows Black Friday spending increased by nearly 20% over last year, rising to $7.4 billion, even as fewer retailers offered big in-store discounts. Brick-and-mortar stores saw an overall 6% decline in sales, according to preliminary data from ShopperTrak.

  • Thanksgiving sales totaled $4.2 billion online, a 15% increase from last year and a record high, according to Adobe.
  • "The drop in Black Friday physical shopping mirrors a year-long share pullback in departments stores including Macy’s, Kohl’s and Foot Locker, all of which are down more than 25% this year," CNBC notes. "Meanwhile, Amazon, the dominant U.S. e-commerce retailer, has gained about 20% this year."

What it means: The big boost in spending, particularly online, is diametrically opposed to the worry and apprehension seen in surveys leading up to the holidays.

  • A NerdWallet survey conducted in early November of 2,023 U.S. adults found that almost "two in five (37%) Americans say the U.S. economy is headed toward a recession, and 30% of those planning to purchase gifts this holiday season say they’ll spend less because of their view of the current economy."
  • "Nearly half (48%) of Americans believe holiday gifts will cost more this year compared with years past as a result of new tariffs on imports from China."
  • "Roughly 48 million Americans are still paying off credit card debt from the 2018 holiday season, far more than the 39.4 million who were paying off 2017 debt" in its 2018 survey.

A study from credit reporting company Experian showed U.S. consumers similarly unenthusiastic about the holidays, based on their survey of 1,159 consumers. The year-over-year drop in the number of people who said they felt "thoughtful" was the largest in the history of the company's survey.

  • Experian's survey also found that 66% of consumers said they would be doing their holiday shopping in cash, up 13% from just two years ago. Those who planned to make purchases with credit cards dropped to 38%, down 6% from 2017.

Watch this space: Despite the changes in how they planned to pay, Experian found consumers expected to spend an average of $1,649 during the holiday season, a "whopping" 75% increase over 2018.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

3 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.