Black Friday Not Enough?

Though most accounts considered Black Friday’s retail sales a success, the holiday-shopping day is not likely to save November’s sales results, according to at least one report.

In fact, Thomson Reuters is expecting a 2.5% same-store sales drop to come in from last month, the worst period since the organizations began collecting this data in 2000. If what is often billed as the year’s biggest shopping day isn’t enough, it seems as though we’re in pretty big trouble this holiday season.

Of course, any good results that took place last Friday were marred by the tragic death of a worker at a Long Island, NY, Wal-Mart who was trampled to death by crowds. The raging need to respond to one-day discounts resulted in a death. Sad occurrences like this make the importance of sales seem trivial at best, and it speaks to the possibility that it’s not just retail sales that are broken.


15 Responses to “Black Friday Not Enough?”

  1. 1 Brian Glass December 2, 2008 at 11:13 am

    For the record Ian Ritter is incorrect when he says that Black Friday “is often billed as the year’s biggest shopping day…” Black Friday, traditionally, has been the day when retailers went from being in the “red” to being in the “black.” The biggest selling day is generally the Saturday, or Sunday before Christmas. It will be a stretch this year since Christmas is on a Thursday.
    Brian Glass

  2. 2 iritter December 2, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I stand corrected…from Wikipedia:

    “The news media frequently refer to Black Friday as the busiest retail shopping day of the year, but this is not always accurate. While it has been one of the busiest days in terms of customer traffic,[1][2] in terms of actual sales volume, from 1993 through 2001 Black Friday was usually the fifth to tenth busiest day.[3] In 2002 and 2004, however, Black Friday ranked second place,[4] and in 2003 and 2005, Black Friday actually did reach first place.[5] The busiest retail shopping day of the year in the United States (in terms of both sales and customer traffic) usually has been the Saturday before Christmas.”

  3. 3 Steven Padilla December 2, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Negatively sensational media constantly uses the term “according to at least one source”. I could also say that “according to at least one source” pigs can fly and it wouldn’t necessarily be true. I wish, just once, someone in the media could take a bit of positive news and write a story about the possibilities. You do realize, don’t you, that perpetuating the fear and anxiety that people feel makes you a part of the news rather than a reporter of it. At the very least, I think you should be balanced in your reporting. Ever read the story of Chicken Little? I’m just glad that my job is not running around announcing that the sky is falling. How about a little balance?
    Steven Padilla

  4. 4 iritter December 2, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Wow. Not my day around here.

    I will say this: I think the idea that the media is causing poor retail sales is ludicrous. I highly doubt that people, especially those reading this blog, aren’t going to shop somewhere based on sales forecasts. That argument just makes no sense.

    If retailers were doing well, we’d write about that…and do, even though it’s just not the case very often right now. We could write shiny, happy articles all day long, and it’s not going to correct this mess.

  5. 5 Steven Padilla December 2, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Ian, I appreciate what you say however, I was trying to advocate a more balanced review of the facts not a white washing of the truth. I certainly don’t look to media to fix any messes. I guess I just get a little tired of the constant stream of bad news. Thanks for the reply.

  6. 6 TeenyTiny December 2, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you, Ian, keep writing the truth. If more media professionals had served their true purpose over the last five years, maybe we wouldn’t have had all of the analyst’s “rah, rah”, and sometimes journalists’ joining in the mass delusion which led us to this mess.

    The media does and should reflect back to the populace what is really going on in the world, and bring in a little wisdom to the situation of past similar historical episodes.

    Truth heals.

  7. 7 MallMaven December 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Mob mentality can have a way of taking over people with dire consequences to life and limb. Ask anyone at a rock concert, or a soccer event.

    Retailers are resorting to sales this season, and using the one day only techniques to preserve their dwindling profits. It is nothing new, but what is different from past years is the feeling of potential deprivation and scarcity: oh, if I don’t get in there fast, I won’t get the deal. This is what drives people to a different level. It reminds me of the Northridge earthquake during the aftermath of the initial big day, people were lined up for flashlights and water in the Santa Monica hardware store. The store had to limit purchases to one flashlight per customer as people were starting to hoard them and buy more than they needed. There was a certain amount of tension in the air, as I’m sure there was at Wal-Mart. But let’s face it, real tragedy at Northridge and a one day buying event at Wal-Mart, are not exactly on the same level. I’ll also add that no one was killed at the hardware store from a mob. It does go to show you, something was really wrong at that Wal-Mart, or maybe people have lost their civility. Very ugly.

  8. 8 James December 2, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    A paradigm shift is occuring and retail business is just one of the many early indicators. We are going to be evaluating what we do, and why we do it differently than we have before. Poor sales are not the end of the world but the harbinger of things to come. We are not the world super power anymore, China is. We need to change the basic way we think about the world and our role/identity as Americans. We need to become even more ourselves, reach into those founding principals and express our highest aspirations for humanity to the world, those goals are universal. Americans have the priviledge and responsibility of leading the way by example and by God that doesn’t mean buying more useless stuff. I am convinced that we are changing from a nation of conspicuous consumption, to one far more measured and judicious, more prudent. Real values and real interpersonal status, the status of self, is on the rise. The hollow foolish goal of collecting more toys is officially over.
    Americans learn quick, if you are rich you will live more modestly with less flash but still have all the priviledges of the aristocracy, if you are poor you will be more equal, less discriminated against and your childern will have a chance to grow up with pride and self assurance. Why don’t we explore more of these topics on this blog? The business we are in goes way beyond the numbers reaching into the very soul of this country, ourselves and our neighbors. There are so many good minds out there, what do you think about this?? God bless America.

  9. 9 Bill December 3, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Oh James, it sounds so wonderful there in your utopia. $4 a gallon gas is the only trigger I’ve noticed that has been effective in changing people’s buying habits. Americans will always be conspicuous in our actions, because someone has to lead, even when it comes to excesses. So, as long as they have the means to buy stuff, they will. “Yes Virginia there really is a Santa Claus…” And, I believe he will show up this year despite all the doom and gloom being bandied about. If nothing else, perhaps people will spend more time in choosing what gifts to give each other making it all the more meaningful to both the gift giver and whomever is on the receiving end.

  10. 10 E December 3, 2008 at 4:48 pm


    Dead-on assessment. The last line of your note, “…Sad occurrences like this make the importance of sales seem trivial at best, and it speaks to the possibility that it’s not just retail sales that are broken…” fit the bill.

    What kind of derangement would en-trance people to the point they’re oblivious that they’re literally walking over someone to get into a store?

    Could anything those animals bought that day be worth a life?

    The apologists will say the tramplers are not responsible for their actions, because like a red flag in front of a bull, the mere idea of the “sale” in this economy became a euphoric narcotic that rendered the herd senseless.

    God save us from ourselves.

  11. 11 James December 4, 2008 at 7:44 am

    From up here in my Ivory tower mistaking wallowing in excess for leadership has led to alot of problems not the least of which is the unfortunate death of this young man, this was truly “Black friday” for him and his family.

  12. 12 L Biggie December 4, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Wal Mart will be sued and the family of this man will rightfully win a huge settlement but what really should be on trial is human greed. I have watched grown men knock over small children running up the aisle to get a free poster at a movie premiere. The people in line that day, fueled by a mob mentality and Wal Mart advertising hype, were so determined to get a bargain that they trampled a man to death. Since Wal Mart incited this, they deserve the consequences.

  13. 13 James December 4, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Maybe the day after Thanksgiving should be renamed in his honor to remind people in the future of the terrible consequences that are possible

  14. 14 EscapeFromHerds December 5, 2008 at 2:35 am

    Its just the Hood comin’ to get ya!

  15. 15 James December 5, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Amen, You got me Bro, when vicious, angry, relentless iambic pentameter is mistaken for lyric poetry it must be over. Violence and hatred are being bred into the society by the very victims of bigotry and predjudice, the callousness of this event does not shock Americans, in fact, some out there will blame the victim. Walmart may very well take that position in court. Don’t be surprised if they say something to the effect of “oh well he was new, he was a big guy and he volunteered, its not our fault the crowd trampled him to death , he should have known”!
    Search your souls America is this the world you want??

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