Photo illustration of a PayPal logo
A smartphone with the PayPal logo is placed on a laptop in this illustration taken on July 14, 2021. Reuters

PayPal Holdings shares dropped nearly 6% in morning trade on Friday after the digital payments heavyweight lowered its annual revenue forecast, warning of a bleak holiday quarter as consumers cut back on discretionary spends.

Decades-high inflation has hit the purchasing power of consumers who also have to contend with the threat of a looming recession.

"Consumers have been trading down from high-end, expensive to more affordable brands while also spending more on non-discretionary products," Wedbush analyst Moshe Katri told Reuters.

PayPal said lower- and middle-income households had started reducing non-essential spending, as they grapple with higher prices of food, energy and gas.

The company's cautious comments point to its higher exposure and sensitivity to discretionary spending, Katri said.

"Given a challenging macro environment, slowing e-commerce trends and an unpredictable holiday shopping season, we are being appropriately prudent in our Q4 revenue guide," Chief Executive Daniel Schulman said in a call with analysts.

The San Jose, California-based company on Thursday cut its 2022 adjusted revenue growth outlook to 10% from 11% forecast earlier, while also forecasting bleak e-commerce growth in the fourth quarter.

That was in line with commentary from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which earlier this week forecast holiday sales, including e-commerce, to grow at a slower pace this year even as retailers offer steep discounts to attract shoppers and clear out excess inventory.

Graphic: PayPal logs revenue growth but pace moderates -

"E-commerce remains in precarious territory with trends deteriorating through the quarter and an uncertain backdrop, increasing the possibility that not much improvement may materialize next year," KBW analysts wrote in a note and slashed the price target on the stock to $95 from $115.

Graphic: U.S. holiday sales for 2022 expected to slow -

At least 11 other brokerages including J.P. Morgan, Wedbush and Jefferies lowered their price targets after results.