Black Friday a Bust?

Good news? Bad news? Or just news? You decide:

According to the National Retail Federation’s Thanksgiving weekend spending survey, 55.1 percent of holiday shoppers were expected to visit stores or go online over Thanksgiving weekend, down from 58.7 percent last year.

“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

According to the survey, the average weekend shopper was expected to spend $380.95, down 6.4 percent from $407.02 last year.

Of that amount, $159.55, or nearly 42 percent, was spent online, down from $177.67 spent online last year.

Total spending was expected to reach $50.9 billion, down from last year’s estimated $57.4 billion.


I’m a little wary, to say the least, of Shay’s estimation of a “strengthening economy.” That certainly doesn’t jibe with what we’ve seen happen to middle class incomes since the “end” of The Great Recession. Anecdotally, I have a contact in management at a local Target, who said to me with no small amount of sympathy that “crazy” Black Friday shoppers are buying things they simply can’t afford the rest of the year.

So what do all the numbers mean? Probably nothing until we get the Q4 GDP revision a few months from now.


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