Here’s what Black Friday sales tell us about the retail sector — and our top pick

Customers line up at the cashier area at a Macy’s store during Black Friday sales on November 25, 2022 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Kena Betancur | Getty Images

The holiday shopping season got off to a solid start over the weekend, as Black Friday’s online sales beat expectations and started to build some much-needed momentum for the retail sector.

Black Friday online sales top $9 billion in new record

Black Friday shoppers wait to enter the Coach store at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, Tennessee, on November 25, 2022.

Seth Herald | AFP | Getty Images

Consumers spent a record $9.12 billion online shopping during Black Friday this year, according to Adobe, which tracks sales on retailers’ websites.

Overall online sales for the day after Thanksgiving were up 2.3% year over year, and electronics were a major contributor, as online sales surged 221% over an average day in October, Adobe said. Toys were another popular category for shoppers, up 285%, as was exercise equipment, up 218%.

Many consumers embraced flexible payment plans on Black Friday as they continue to grapple with high prices and inflation. Buy Now Pay Later payments increased by 78% compared with the past week, beginning Nov. 19, and Buy Now Pay Later revenue is up 81% for the same period.

Some of this year’s hottest items included gaming consoles, drones, Apple MacBooks, Dyson products and toys like Fortnite, Roblox, Bluey, Funko Pop! and Disney Encanto, according to the report.

Black Friday shoppers also broke a record for mobile orders, as 48% of online sales were made on smartphones, an increase from 44% last year.

The record-breaking spending comes on the heels of a strong day of Thanksgiving shopping, in which consumers shelled out an all-time high of $5.29 billion online, up 2.9% year-over-year. Typically, shoppers spend about $2 billion to $3 billion online in a day, according to Adobe. 

For retailers, these numbers may be a promising indicator of the coming weeks. Early holiday forecasts have been muted, and Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom and other retailers reported a lull in sales in late October and early November. Consumer sentiment has also weakened in the past month as inflation hovers near four-decade highs.

Though Black Friday is over, e-commerce activity will remain strong through the weekend, according to Adobe’s report. Adobe expects consumers to spend $4.52 billion on Saturday and $4.99 billion on Sunday, ahead of the year’s biggest online shopping day, Cyber Monday.

This year, Cyber Monday is expected to drive $11.2 billion in spending, up 5.1% year-over-year, according to Adobe.

Black Friday online sales to hit new record, expected to top $9 billion

A Black Friday sale sign in the clothing department of the Macy’s flagship store on Black Friday in New York, US, on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This will likely end up the biggest Black Friday ever online.

Overall online sales for the day after Thanksgiving are expected to top $9 billion, according to Adobe, which tracks sales on retailers’ websites. That would be a record.

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Through 6 p.m. ET, shoppers spent $7.28 billion at websites. That number could balloon to as much as $9.2 billion before the day is done, Adobe said.

The record-breaking spending comes on the heels of a strong day of Thanksgiving shopping, in which consumers shelled out an all-time high $5.29 billion online, up 2.9% year-over-year. Typically, shoppers spend about $2 billion to $3 billion online in a day, according to Adobe. 

The company said shoppers were picking up Apple products such as watches and AirPods, smart speakers and televisions, espresso machines, and gaming consoles, as well as toys from Funko, Hatchimals and Squishmallows.

Adobe noted that mobile shopping also hit a record high this year, with sales from smartphones accounting for 55% of online sales on Thanksgiving Day. These sales are expected to account for 53% of total Black Friday sales, the company predicts.

Additionally, strong discounts enticed inflation-weary consumers to put more items in their carts. The average order volume was up 12% during the season. Toys, in particular, drove significant demand, with deals as high as 33% off.

For retailers, these numbers may be a promising indicator about the weeks ahead. Early holiday forecasts have been muted. Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom and other companies reported a lull in sales in late October and early November. Consumer sentiment has weakened in the past month as inflation hovers near four-decade highs.

That has ratcheted up the pressure for retailers on Black Friday weekend — a time that’s often associated with the biggest deals of the holiday shopping season.

Adobe expects Cyber Week, the five days from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, will generate around $34.8 billion in online spending, up nearly 3% compared to 2021. Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day, with sales slated to top $11.2 billion, the company forecast.

— CNBC’s Melissa Repko contributed to this report.

Nintendo sets sales record with Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet

Nintendo said its Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet games for the Nintendo Switch hit an all-times sales record for the company. Pokémon is one of Nintendo’s longest-running and most popular franchises.

Guillaume Payen | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Nintendo on Thursday said it latest Pokémon games have set a sales record at the Japanese gaming giant as it continues to pump out blockbusters ahead of the crucial holiday season.

The Kyoto, Japan-headquartered company said sales of the Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet games for the Nintendo Switch surpassed 10 million units in the first three days since their global launch on Nov. 18.

That is the highest level of sales for a game’s debut in Nintendo’s history.

Nintendo’s success with Pokémon comes two months after Splatoon 3 hit a domestic sales record in Japan, in signs the gaming giant is hitting the mark with players ahead of the holidays.

Pokémon is one of Nintendo’s most recognizable and longest-running franchises. Nintendo breathed new life into the series by releasing Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield three years ago and Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl last year.

Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet are different as they are open-world games, allowing players to explore the game environment without completing missions in a linear way.

The video games industry saw a boom during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 as people were stuck at home during lockdowns. But as economies have reopened, the industry has started to normalize, which has weighed on video game giants including Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

“With the new Pokémon, Nintendo achieved a rare feat among all video game companies: scoring two blockbusters in a difficult 2022 for the industry,” Serkan Toto, CEO of Tokyo-based consultancy Kantan Games, told CNBC.

“Sure, Pokémon is almost always a safe bet, but the new title has exceeded expectations, just like Splatoon 3 did earlier this year.”

Investors are backing Nintendo thanks to its recent blockbusters. The company’s shares are up more than 11% this year, outperforming Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index. In September, Nintendo carried out a 10-for-1 stock split which has also boosted sentiment.

Nintendo also has a strong pipeline of games. Toto expects The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom slated for release in May to be the company’s next major hit.

But Nintendo is not the only gaming giant entering the holiday season in a strong fashion.

Sony said Wednesday that the God of War Ragnarok title for its PlayStation console sold 5.1 million copies in its first week making it the fastest-selling debut of any first-party game for the company. First-party games are those made by a gaming studio owned by Sony.

Sony shares closed more than 2% higher in Japan on Thursday.

Home sales fell for ninth straight month in October

A “For Sale” sign outside a house in Albany, California, on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Home sales declined for the ninth straight month in October, as higher interest rates and surging inflation kept buyers on the sidelines.

Sales of previously owned homes dropped 5.9% from September to October, according to the National Association of Realtors. That is the slowest pace since December 2011, with the exception of a very brief drop at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The October reading put sales at a seasonally adjusted, annualized pace of 4.43 million units. Sales were 28.4% lower year-over-year.

Even as sales slow, supply is still stubbornly low. There were 1.22 million homes for sale at the end of October, an decrease of just under 1% both month-to-month and year-over-year. That’s a 3.3-month supply at the current sales pace. Historically, a balanced market is considered to be a six-month supply.

The median price of an existing home sold in October was $379,100 , an increase of 6.6% from the year before. The price gains, however, are shrinking, as the seasonal drop in home prices this time of year appears to be much deeper than usual.

“Inventory levels are still tight, which is why some homes for sale are still receiving multiple offers,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. “In October, 24% of homes received over the asking price. Conversely, homes sitting on the market for more than 120 days saw prices reduced by an average of 15.8%.”

Overall, homes went under contract in 21 days in October, up from 19 days in September and 18 days in October 2021. More than half, 64%, of homes sold in October 2022 were on the market for less than a month, suggesting that there is still strong demand if the home is priced right.

While sales are dropping now across all price points, they are weakening most in the $100,000 to $250,000 range and in the $1 million plus range. On the lower end, that is likely due to the severe shortage of available homes in that price range. Big losses in the stock market, as well as inflation and global economic uncertainty, may be weighing on high-end buyers.

First-time buyers, who are likely most sensitive to the increase in mortgage rates, made up just 28% of sales, down from 29% the year before. This cohort usually makes up 40% of home purchases. Investors or second-home buyers pulled back, buying just 16% of the homes sold in October compared with 17% in October 2021.

Mortgage rates are now more than double the record lows seen just at the start of this year. But recent volatility in rates is also wreaking havoc on potential buyers. Rates shot up in June, settled back in July and August, and continued even higher in September and October. Then they dropped back again pretty sharply last week.

“For many, the week-to-week volatility in mortgage rates alone, which in 2022 has been three times what was typical, may be a good reason to wait,” noted Danielle Hale, chief economist with Realtor.com. “With week-to-week changes in mortgage rates causing $100+ swings in monthly housing costs for a median-priced home, it’s tough to know how to set and stick to a budget.”

Mark Cuban used a 14-second pitch to make money at his first sales job

Some kids make extra cash running lemonade stands. A 12-year-old Mark Cuban sold trash bags door-to-door.

The billionaire serial entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner recently told GQ magazine that a family friend gave him the opportunity, marking his first-ever sales job. The friend sold Cuban boxes of trash bags for $3, so Cuban could turn around and sell them around the neighborhood at $6, to save money for sneakers.

Cuban said he developed a 14-second pitch for every customer. He’d knock on doors, introduce himself and ask clients if they used garage bags. Then, he’d give out his phone number and offer to personally bring over more boxes whenever they called.

“It went like this: ‘Hi, my name is Mark. Do you use garbage bags? I’ve got a great deal for you, and every time you need garbage bags, all you ever have to do is call me and I’ll put ’em in the back of my wagon and I’ll bring ’em right down to your house,'” he recalled.

“That was my first business: The world’s first, probably only, garage bag door-to-door subscription company,” added the panelist on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

The advantage of the brief pitch was explaining the value of his business as quickly as possible — maximizing his and his clients’ time.

Cuban carried that lesson with him as he got older, selling stamps and coins throughout his teenage years. Eventually, his focus shifted from accruing money to finding opportunities that would help him “control my own time,” he said.

He still appears to value time highly. In 2020, Cuban told the “Raising the Bar” podcast that he receives about 1,000 emailed pitches per day — and he judges them by only their first few sentences.

“I’ll read the first paragraph or two, and if it’s something that catches my attention and is interesting, and I think is forward-thinking, then I will just start peppering them with questions,” he said.

In 2017, Cuban spoke at South By Southwest about the impact a single sentence can have. He recalled receiving a cold email in 2012 from Adam Lyons, the then-25-year-old founder of insurance comparison start-up The Zebra.

The email was an investment pitch, and its short subject line, “Wanna disrupt the insurance industry?” got Cuban’s attention.

Cuban said he responded within 25 minutes, and the two emailed back and forth for weeks. Cuban went on to invest in The Zebra, which has since raised a total of $256.5 million over nine funding rounds, a company spokesperson tells CNBC Make It.

The company is now a unicorn, achieving a billion-dollar valuation last year, according to financial research database.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”

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Pending home sales fell 10% in September from August

Pending home sales plunge 31% versus one year ago amid rising mortgage rates

Pending home sales, a measure of signed contracts on existing homes, dropped a much worse-than-expected 10.2% in September from August, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Economists had predicted a 4% decline. Sales were down 31% year over year.

This marks the lowest level on the pending sales index since June 2010, excluding April 2020, when the Covid pandemic was in its early days.

Realtors point squarely to sharply higher mortgage rates, which had sat at record lows for the first two years of the pandemic. The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage was right around 3% at the start of this year, but then rose swiftly, crossing 6% in June, according to Mortgage News Daily. It pulled back a bit in July and August, but then began rising again, crossing 7% in September, when these contracts were signed.

A Coldwell Banker “Under Contract” sign stands outside a property in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“Persistent inflation has proven quite harmful to the housing market,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The Federal Reserve has had to drastically raise interest rates to quell inflation, which has resulted in far fewer buyers and even fewer sellers.”

Mortgage demand and new listings are dropping, too, because homeowners are unwilling to give up their record-low interest rates to trade up to a much higher one. For potential buyers, the increase in rates means the monthly payment on a median-priced home, with a 20% down payment, is now close to $1,000 higher than it was in January.

“With wages falling behind on account of inflation, and rates rising, buyers’ purchasing power has been reduced by over $100,000,” said George Ratiu, senior economist at Realtor.com.

“As we look to the remainder of the year, we can expect interest rates to continue their upward trajectory. The Federal Reserve’s monetary tightening has not yet made a dent in inflation, which means that the bank is expected to hike its policy rate further,” he added.

While red-hot home prices are starting to cool and even drop in some local markets, the decline is not enough to make up for the increase in interest rates. Home prices are up more than 40% since the start of the pandemic, fueled largely by those rock-bottom interest rates early on.

Regionally, pending home sales dropped 16.2% month to month in the Northeast and were down 30.1% year over year. In the Midwest, sales were down 8.8% for the month and 26.7% from one year ago.

In the South, sales retreated 8.1% for the month and were down 30.0% year over year, and in the West, the most expensive region in the nation, sales fell 11.7% for the month and were down 38.7% from the year before.

Inflation-weary shoppers to see more holiday sales, discounts in 2022

People walk stores offering sales at a shopping mall in Santa Anita, California on December 20, 2021.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Grocery and energy prices have spiked, and credit card interest rates are climbing, but shoppers can expect some relief as they start holiday shopping.

Retailers, desperate to coax inflation-fatigued consumers to spend, are expected to beef up promotions as they struggle to get rid of already marked-down excess inventory.

“This will be the year of the perpetual deal for Christmas,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor for the NPD Group, a market research firm.

In some gift categories, merchandise could be marked down by more than 20% on retailers’ websites, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online sales. Computers, electronics and toys are all expected to hit the deepest discounting levels since Adobe started tracking figures in 2017.

The abundance of deals is a sharp departure from a year ago. Last holiday season, shoppers started buying gifts early to avoid out-of-stocks and shipping delays. Concerns about not getting hot items meant consumers were willing to pay up.

This year, though, retailers have an abundance of merchandise. Shoppers are reluctant to spend as they pay more for food, housing, health care and other items as inflation hovers around a four-decade high. People are also spending more on travel and experiences after two-plus years of Covid restrictions.

Even with the bigger discounts, industry watchers expect a muted holiday season because of households’ stretched budgets. Consulting firm Bain & Co. forecasts growth of as much as 7.5% from last holiday season, but when adjusted for inflation, that is only 1% to 3%. Consulting firm Alix Partners projects a 4% to 7% increase in sales year over year — but that is a decline when factoring in the current year-over-year inflation rate of 8.2%.

“It’s food, it’s medical care, it’s housing and shelter costs. It’s essential services such as veterinary care, and child care,” said Leo Feler, chief economist at market researcher Numerator. “All of these things come first before consumers buy holiday gifts.”

Plus, customers may not even want some of the items that retailers are putting on sale. Computers, the category that’s expected to have the highest level of discounting during the holiday season, according to Adobe, has seen cooling demand. HP, Dell and Lenovo have all reported a decline in shipments of personal computers.

The return of steep discounting will be a tough pill to swallow for companies. It is pressuring retailers’ profit margins, as they juggle higher costs. Already, Walmart, Target and Best Buy have cut their profit outlooks as the retailers navigate a more promotional environment. Walmart leaders have said even higher-income households are trading down to buy cheaper groceries, raising concerns that they may hesitate to splurge on gifts, decor and other holiday items.

Parade of promos

As shoppers lounged at the pool and went on long-awaited vacations this summer, the drumbeat of promotions was already underway. More items were on sale during backyard barbecue season than during peak holiday season a year ago.

During the second week of July, 46% of units were on promotion, according to the NPD Group. That’s higher than the 41% of units on promotion during the fourth week of November 2021 — the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

When Amazon threw its Prime Day in July, Walmart opted out of its own sales event because so much of its merchandise was already on sale.

Sales have picked up again in recent weeks, too. In October, Amazon threw a Prime Day-like sales event, the first time it has had two discount days in the same year. Target and Walmart got started early, too, with Target’s Deal Days running a week before the Amazon event and Walmart’s Rollback & More event overlapping with it.

This week, Walmart announced it will have savings events that kick off every Monday in November on its website and then continue in its stores. Customers who belong to its subscription service, Walmart+, will get access to hot deals and popular items seven hours early.

Promotions will be especially pronounced in certain categories. Apparel and the sports and outdoors category have already had a noticeable jump in discounts at Walmart and Target compared with the year-ago period in September, according to YipitData, a research firm that collects data from consumer receipts and scrapes retailers’ websites.

For instance, at Walmart, apparel items sold at an approximately 20% discount, up from about 7% in 2021 for the two-week period ended Sept. 17. At Target, apparel items sold at an approximately 18% discount, up from about 4% in the year-ago period.

A clearance sale sign is seen at the Gap retail store on September 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Allison Dinner | Getty Images

Beauty, on the other hand, has had few discounts — which may reflect consumers’ willingness to keep spending on self-care or little luxuries like lipstick and lotion, even if budgets are tight in other areas. Discount levels across Ulta Beauty categories were either stable or down slightly year over year for the two weeks ended Sept. 17, YipitData found.

The level of discounting by retailers will also depend on their customer bases, said Numerator’s Feler. Dollar stores or other discounters, for instance, will need be more sensitive to consumers’ budget constraints. But luxury brands, which have higher-income customers, won’t have to adjust as much, with sales in the category remaining strong.

For shoppers like Rebecca Kirschner, the promotions over the past six months mark a welcome change. The New York City resident and her fiance just registered for their wedding, and nearly everything was on sale

A year ago, she recalled shelves being emptier. This holiday season, she expects the money she spends on family and friends will go further.

“It feels like you went from half a plate of food to a buffet,” said Kirschner, 33. “Every store you go into has a big sales section now.”

Beyond Meat to cut 19% of its workforce as sales, stock struggle

Vegetarian sausages from Beyond Meat Inc, the vegan burger maker, are shown for sale at a market in Encinitas, California, June 5, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Beyond Meat plans to cut 19% of its workforce, or about 200 employees, the company said Friday in a regulatory filing.

The cuts are expected to be completed by the end of the year and are an effort to achieve cash flow positive operations within the second half of 2023.

Shares of the company are down about 77% so far this year as the company struggles with declining sales. The stock earlier this week notched a 52-week low of $12.76 per share and was last seen trading for about $15 per share, dragging the company’s market value to roughly $955 million.

The announcement came as the company also revealed its chief operating officer, Doug Ramsey, left the company weeks after he was arrested for allegedly biting a man’s nose and punching a Subaru in an Arkansas parking garage.

As part of the job cuts, the role of chief growth officer has been eliminated and Deanna Jurgens, who held that role, will leave the company.

The company also said Chief Financial Officer Philip Hardin stepped down from his post earlier this week. Hardin will leave the company after a roughly two-week transition period to pursue another opportunity, according to the filing.

Lubi Kutua, previously Beyond Meat’s vice president for financial planning and analysis as well as investor relations, assumed the top financial role on Thursday.

Beyond Meat did not immediately return a request for comment on the changes.

In August, the company announced it was trimming its workforce by 4%.

Retailers trot out 12-foot skeletons to boost Halloween sales

A child looks at a halloween costume on the rack. At the Target department store in Exeter Township Tuesday afternoon for a story on halloween costumes.

Ben Hasty | Medianews Group | Getty Images

In the past few weeks, Craig Cislo dug out the spray-painted tombstones from his attic, scoured websites for a giant animated reaper and convinced his teenage son to dress as a bush to spook trick-or-treaters.

Cislo, 43, of Dallas, plans to spend about $700 for Halloween to step up his family’s front yard decorations. He has noticed more neighbors are joining in too, with large inflatables, animatronics and even an elaborate display inspired by “The Walking Dead.”

“My wife and I joke — because we take a daily walk — that we have competition this year,” he said.

As retailers brace for a lackluster holiday season, many are planning to pump up early sales in the crucial quarter by dangling a wider assortment of Halloween merchandise. Even if consumers are cutting back on spending elsewhere, they say Halloween gives people a chance to get into the holiday spirit with relatively inexpensive celebrations before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Home Depot and Lowe’s stocked up on a wide range of spooky lawn ornaments, including giant mummies and skeletons. Target executives expressed high hopes for sales of costumes, haunted house cookie building sets and other Halloween merchandise, even after cutting the company’s profit outlook twice. And Party City, which sells costumes, balloons and bags of candy, plans to hire about 20,000 seasonal employees before the Oct. 31 occasion.

The push around Halloween comes as more people return to in-person gatherings. Participation is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, with nearly 70% of Americans planning to celebrate, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.

That’s expected to lift total Halloween spending to a record $10.6 billion, a jump from last year’s $10.1 billion, the survey found. On average, consumers plan to spend $100 for candy, decor, cards and costumes.

For some shoppers, celebrations like Halloween offer an escape from the worries of everyday life. As customers face troubling news headlines, Covid surges and political uncertainty, they’re seeking more ways to celebrate and “bring joy to their families,” said Christina Hennington, Target’s chief growth officer.

“This is one of the reasons we continue to see such strength in our seasonal categories, which we expect will continue in the back half of the year,” she said on the company’s earnings call in August.

Herman the 12 foot tall skeleton stands amongst his fellow skeletons in Middletown, Maryland on October 20, 2020. The Ferrone family purchased a 12-foot-tall skeleton from Home Depot, the hottest halloween decoration this year. It was stolen from their yard, and they petitioned the company for a replacement.

Marvin Joseph | The Washington Post | Getty Images

The 12-foot skeleton

For Home Depot and Lowe’s, spring remains the most lucrative time of year. But over the years, the home-improvement companies have bulked up on their Halloween and Christmas product lines.

In 1987, Home Depot added Christmas trees. That was followed by Christmas decor in 2005 and Halloween merchandise in 2013. Then it saw an opportunity to expand seasonal sales in the fall, said Lance Allen, the company’s senior merchant of holiday decor.

The retailer’s team of merchants sought inspiration by going to haunted houses and watching classic ’80s Halloween movies and Tim Burton movies. They also roamed trade shows, where they spotted a display of a giant skeleton torso that would inspire one of the company’s most popular Halloween products.

The skeleton at the trade show cost thousands of dollars, so Home Depot designed a 12-foot skeleton that costs $299 and debuted last year. It became a social media sensation and sold out.

When Home Depot’s “Skelly” skeleton returned this year, the first shipments sold out the first day they became available on July 15, Allen said. The retailer has since been getting replenishments.

Other Halloween sales items include a new “Hocus Pocus”-themed inflatable that goes for $149 and an eight-foot animated reaper that recites scary phrases while moving its head and mouth costs $249. The company also added a 15-foot towering phantom — its tallest decoration yet — that sells for $399.

Rival Lowe’s rolled out its answer to the skeleton this year: A 12-foot mummy that sells for $348.

Lowe’s also expanded its Halloween array of goods by more than 20% this year and dedicated more space in stores for larger outdoor merchandise. Decorations with scarier themes have been popular, such as a life-size Freddy Krueger and a giant mummy, along with staples like scarecrows, hay bales and pumpkins, said Bill Boltz, executive vice president of merchandising.

Both Home Depot and Lowe’s say Halloween sales are going well, but they do not break out sales figures in the category.

Lowe’s debuted a 12-foot mummy this year to tap into customers’ enthusiasm for Halloween. It is exclusive to the retailer and sells for $348.

A ‘relatively inexpensive’ splurge

It is too early to say exactly how Halloween sales will play out this year. Merchandise is already in stores, but sales tend to gain momentum throughout October as families gear up to celebrate. Major retailers will give sales updates in November when they report quarterly earnings.

Seasonal items, however, do appear to be drawing consumer spending.

In late September, Costco said on an earnings call that early sales of Halloween merchandise were going well, and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the company is stocking up on spooky items, such as inflatables and outdoor decor, even as it cancels other orders and copes with a glut of unwanted merchandise.

Boltz of Lowe’s said higher prices of food, rent and other essentials do not appear to be scaring customers away from spending.

“When you think about Halloween and you think about discretionary categories, it’s probably as discretionary as you can get,” said Boltz of Lowe’s. He noted that there’s been demand for pricier Halloween items, too, such as the big lawn decorations.

Meanwhile, back in Dallas, Cislo is still deciding which new animatronic he’ll buy for his lawn. He also plans to get supplies and build a tunnel that trick-or-treaters will have to walk through to reach the porch and get their treat: a chocolate bar or a lollipop.

He said he wants to create the kind of experience he enjoyed when he dressed up in costumes and trick-or-treated as a kid in upstate New York. The best houses, he recalled, gave out full-sized candy bars or had extra spooky decorations.

 “It wasn’t just ‘The lights on are on. Let’s go ring the bell'” he said.