Are Black Friday Numbers a Surprise?

Black Friday weekend has come and gone, and most reports make it sound like retail sales were marginal at best.

The National Retail Federation says that more people shopped but spent less money.The average amount each customer spent, it says dropped to $343.31, down from $372.57 last year, but total sales were flat, at $42.1 billion.

Research firm ShopperTrak surmises that sales were up 0.5%, and surprise, discounters outperformed other retail categories. In apparel, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret were apparently winners and Banana Republic was a dud.

Do these reports bode well for the rest of the holiday season, or does it spell poor sales to come?

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9 Responses to “Are Black Friday Numbers a Surprise?”


  1. 1 Dunkin'man November 30, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I wish I could leave a well thought out response, but with the numbers so weak, ie ” sales are falling but not as far”, it really doesn’t matter.

    We are trying to find a ray of hope on an economic landscape that is gray gray gray…..

  2. 2 Broker November 30, 2009 at 10:00 am

    My guess is that consumers are still feeling pressured and will not be spending any more than the bare minimum unless retailers offer them a deal they cannot refuse. I think deleveraging is still the order of the day and that is ugly if you are a retailer.

  3. 3 August November 30, 2009 at 10:08 am

    The trite “flat is the new up” means Black Friday was up, then.

  4. 4 Ken Simons November 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    This is very little information to go by to come to any decisive conclusion. More shoppers spending less money. If this were the stock market and were looking at gross earnings, this may not be good news. However, does anyone know if there were better margins to create more profit? Most of the mailers I was sent for shopping had a minimum of 10% off and going as high as 30% off. So if the average sale was 7.85% off does that mean they sold more goods? How are inventorires? Will we see unemployment go down for the month?

  5. 5 Franz November 30, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I like this blahg. Very subantial information, Ian! Kep up the god work! But I have a quesion. How come they call Blck Friday when it’s a good day for the buyers an’ retalers?

  6. 6 Brandi Leyva November 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Based off the few middle priced retailers that were not hurt too bad shows they are obviously doing something different. With the Competition of discount retailers what did they do different as compared to Banana Republic to stay above water?

  7. 7 James November 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    More shoppers in the stores but less spending per capita indicates poorly for the rest of the Holiday Season, some of these shoppers have basically shot their wad and won’t be back in the stores until January. Many of these customers are spending only for their children while forgoing gifts for themselves and others they would normally spend for. The unrelenting torrent of bad news related to job loss, and the ongoing and untimely credit company customer abuse are compounding an overall reluctance to spend except for the bare essentials. We may see a time soon where it will be difficult if not impossible to stimulate sales at any price. I think consumers are worn out, more worried than ever before, and reaching a point where they just don’t give a rip. Look around in the stores, no one is excited much less in a Holiday mood. All of this is adding up to a satiated, and even sadistic market environment where margins will suffer enormously.

  8. 8 L Biggie December 1, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Franz-

    Black Friday comes from the accounting term to be “in the black” (as opposed to being in the red and losing money), as this day has historically been the kickoff day for the profitable holiday season and disproportionately higher sales experienced by retailers. If you’ve ever seen a monthly sales report for a shopping center, you’ll see how much more retailers do in December, sometimes 3 to 5 times than other months. Thus the term Black Friday.

  9. 9 Gin.Drinker December 2, 2009 at 4:06 am

    At this point the weakest retailers were flushed out in 2008 (Circuit City, Linen N’ Things, Mervyns etc). So whats left are either category killers (WMT, Bed bath & beyond, Best Buy) or else are too creaky to fail (Sears).

    I have a feeling that off price retailers are going to exert some painful downwards pressure on full price retailers. The TJX’s I’ve visited seem to have reasonable foot traffic and baskets.


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