Zerohedge presented a factual analysis of Black Friday - (you know, the day when retailers are supposed to be in the black for the holiday shopping season)
The National Retail Federation has reported that the average Thanksgiving spend has declined from $372 in 2008 to $343 in 2009, as more shoppers sought out rock-bottom 5 am bargains: the estimated number of bargain hunters increased from 172 million to 195 million.
So while more people came out to look for rock bottom prices... less people actually bought anything.
The average Black Friday spending declined from $372 in 2008 to $343 in 2009.
And that is a change of -7.80%.
Add to that the fact that most people who bought anything most likely bought loss leaders (the items that are under-priced in order to get you into the store), so obviously stores are sacrificing their gross and operating margins, in order to get as many people out and shopping this holiday season.
Of course cable news will spin this much differently.
It's worth noting that this year there will be one extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Hanukkah begins on Dec. 11 this year versus Dec. 22 last year, which may aid sales in week two of December. Also remember there are roughly 5,613,750 Americans living on unemployment checks, while soup kitchens are filled and community food pantries are growing bare. The job market is worse than it’s ever been for years. This is all going to have a great bearing on holiday shopping numbers, and it is said that holiday sales make up a third or more of retailers’ annual profit.
My favorite quote from a commenter on the Zerohedge post was this (pardon the language):
"Am I the only one who finds it rather depressing that the great hope for global recovery comes form more people buying shit they don't need with money they don't have?"
Well said, nonetheless.