Black Friday sales rise…barely
Sales on Black Friday, the biggest day of the year for retail, fell short this year:
Preliminary sales data from [ShopperTalk], a Chicago research firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 stores, showed shoppers spent $10.66 billion when they hit the malls on the day after Thanksgiving. That’s only 0.5 percent more than last year when Black Friday sales rose a striking 3 percent.
The problem with using retail sales as a calculation is the same as using topline figures for a business to determine its health. Sales numbers are important, but we’re missing a critical piece — the cost of the sales. After all, anyone can sell a lot of merchandise if they’re willing to do it at a loss.
Discounts moved from traditional low-margin seasonal gift ideas to staples, where retailers usually hope to recoup their bottom lines. That could be very bad news; as Ashley Heher notes, last year’s 3% Black Friday increase heralded a 4.4% drop in the overall holiday shopping season, topline. If retailers bought a 0.5% increase through deeper discounts, the margin on those sales will be thinner, and they may have pulled some future sales into Black Friday as a result.
We still have Cyber Monday to come, but consumers are still being cautious, even at Christmas. Despite what we are constantly told, all is not well with the economy.