November 29, 2004

MY EARLIER WAL-MART POST produced a lot of email from readers saying that Wal-Mart’s drop in sales was probably more reflective of Wal-Mart’s problems than of Christmas shopping generally. Judging by this story from the WSJ (unlike the link to my column, below, this one’s subscriber-only — sorry) the readers are right:

A Shopping Frenzy, but Not at Wal-Mart

Near-record crowds turned out for the holiday shopping season’s Thanksgiving weekend kickoff, bringing with them unexpectedly robust sales gains to many malls and retail chains across the country.

Except, surprisingly, at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

I’ve never understood the fashionable Wal-Mart hatred, but I’ve never liked shopping there very much. I also think that a lot of people are doing their shopping online, like I am, though I haven’t seen a lot of numbers on that yet. But there’s less traffic, no crowds, and you don’t have to haul the stuff to or from your car.

I’m sure I’ll do some shopping at the mall, too, but I’ll bet I wind up spending more than half my Christmas budget online.

UPDATE: Hmm. Even some loyal Wal-Mart customers may be shopping online at Walmart.com since its prices can be lower than the stores’. Wonder how they’re counted?