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More People Seek Greater Bargains And Spend Less During Black Friday Compared To 2008

Tyler Durden's picture


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.

More from the NRF:

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their
wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on
less expensive items like toys, small appliances and winter clothes,”
said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “While retailers are
encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday
weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people
coming back through Christmas.
Shoppers can continue to expect
retailers to focus on low prices and bargains through the end of

At some point in addition to revenue, retailers will indeed have to focus on margins. And it is very likely that gross and operating margins were precisely what was sacrificed in order to get as many people out and shopping this holiday season.

And here is a sign of the desperation that has gripped US consumers in light of the worst unemployment in almost a century.

In order to nab the best holiday items, more shoppers headed out for
bargains while it was still dark outside. According to the survey,
nearly one-third of shoppers (31.2%) were at the stores by 5 a.m.,
compared with 23.3 percent who were at stores by that time last year.

“During a more robust economy, people may be inclined to hit the
“snooze” button on Black Friday, but high unemployment and a focus on
price caused shoppers to visit stores early in anticipation of the best
deals,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic
Initiatives, BIGresearch.

Full report from the NRF:



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Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:16 | 145485 Mark Beck
Mark Beck's picture

Average Thanksgiving spend has declined from $372 in 2008 to $343 in 2009.

Thats a change of -7.80%.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 21:14 | 145695 DormRoom
DormRoom's picture

wait till data comes in from cyber Monday.  A lot of consumers are shifting certain purchases to cyber Monday to get deals on electronics, and other digital goods.  Then you'll get a better picture of consumer spending behaviour.



Sun, 11/29/2009 - 23:00 | 145779 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

Cyber Monday is  a myth.

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 03:42 | 145986 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Agree - it's a myth, there's no real deals being offered

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:22 | 145491 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

Apparently the only things Americans bought on Friday were Loss-Leader products.

I wonder what that will do to the top line...

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 10:18 | 146135 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

So America reaches for the wallet, and finds it empty thanks to Professor Teleprompter and the merry band of thieves running Congress: Nearly 1/5 unemployed, family budgets were prematurely milked by the dueling "Cash for FoolsClunkers" and the $8000 Home Down Payment programmes. State budgets are in the red, the credit card companies are slowing turning their interest rate charges & fees up to a boil. The future is indeed dark due to the unprecedented "stimulus" debt which has apparently done NOTHING to stimulate anything other than the banker's bank accounts and prop up the General Motors zombie, delaying the inevitable.

Is it any wonder why the shoppers have not turned out? After all of this, even a fool can conclude that something is deeply troubling about the state of things, even if he cannot put a finger on the problem precisely.

Yet, because the Proles refuse to voluntarily 'do their duty' and mindlessly spend, the ruling class will predictably conclude what is needed here is 1) More Stimulus, 2)Higher Taxes, 3)Increased Regulation!

The world has gone mad.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:54 | 145496 AN0NYM0US
AN0NYM0US's picture

so in the boom times of 2005 - 2006 <145m shoppers and as the economy began to tank number of shoppers increased approaching 195m this year.  From the same graph average spending increased from just $300 in 2005 to $340 in 2009.

It would be interesting to see the stats for the post thanksgiving to xmas period for the same years - seems that there is an inverse correlation between black Friday sales and the economy


(of course CNBS will spin this into a headline like "Consumers Hit the Stores: Biggest Thanksgiving Weekend Ever!"

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 18:51 | 145594 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Good point Annon. The increase in the number of shoppers is not a reflection on the strength of the economy rather emphasises the weakness. More people than ever are looking for discerning bargains (buying only what they want as cheaply as possible) rather than shopping when they like and not prone to being price conscious as in previous years. These figures aren’t really that good.


The Other Annon

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:34 | 145498 AnonymousMonetarist
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After the locusts comes the famine... 

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:05 | 145606 Andrei Vyshinsky
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Well put, my friend.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:34 | 145499 perpetual-runner-up
perpetual-runner-up's picture

AMAZON predictions anyone - dislosure Jan 115 puts...

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:34 | 145500 Mr.Kowalski
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But I was promised the recovery had begun.. Did I miss it already ?? I thought it was just a dead cat..

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:21 | 145534 Problem Is
Problem Is's picture

I will buy you a little container of lemon grass for Xmas.

It can be your green shoots...

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 21:44 | 145719 Missing_Link
Missing_Link's picture

I don't buy the "green shoots"  ...  Not without a price cut.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:38 | 145677 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

the "recovery" has come and gone...get used to it.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:39 | 145504 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

My favorite story about black friday was the guy and his friends standing in line at Best Buy for 17 hrs so they could either buy or collect discount coupons for electronics so they could then resell on Ebay.

The entrepreneurial spirit alive and well.


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:40 | 145505 A Man without Q...
A Man without Qualities's picture

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?


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:45 | 145510 Screwball
Screwball's picture


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:52 | 145516 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

No you are not alone. It truly is a sad state of affairs.

For all the Europeans here, is the push to buy the same?

Also, I never hear Christians getting pissed off that their biggest holiday has turned into this ridiculous month of consumption.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:02 | 145522 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

It seems like one week of every month there is an expectation to frivolously consume. Bombarded with advertisements, the people do what is expected of them.

The chart above is disgraceful.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:59 | 145567 Strom
Strom's picture

Wow, really?


Do you ever talk to any Christians?


Edit: Also, just to clarify, the largest/most important Christian celebration is Easter.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 18:08 | 145573 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

Yes I do and they complain a little but still go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money on useless shit for Christmas.

What I'm talking about how little their leadership cries BS about how Christmas has turned into a commercial bonanza.

And while yes Easter may be a bigger day from a religious stand point, here in the States Christmas is the holiday that closes schools, businesses and government offices for more than just the day.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 18:45 | 145591 Yankee
Yankee's picture

My motorcycle is v strom - think strom has some german meaning relating to wind

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:26 | 145622 Andrei Vyshinsky
Andrei Vyshinsky's picture

"Also, I never hear Christians getting pissed off that their biggest holiday has turned into this ridiculous month of consumption."

Where have you been hiding? That's a constant gripe among Christians of all descriptions, that something as sacred as God's Incarnation is so utterly trivialized by a merhant class bent on capitalising upon the virtue of charity. The complaints are almost a cliche at this point. Go to church sometime,son. You'll hear them - the complaints - and maybe something else that'll wake you up. :-)

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:34 | 145629 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

So if Christians are complaining in a place like the US where supposedly 80% of the population is Christian, who is doing all the silly spending at Christmas?

And you shouldn't tell people to go to church if you are not sure they are Christian, they might tell you to keep your fairytales to yourself.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:41 | 145680 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

"And you shouldn't tell people to go to church if you are not sure they are Christian, they might tell you to keep your fairytales to yourself."

So you gripe that Christians aren't complaining about the commercialization of Christmas, yet refuse to place yourself in areas where Christians are known to congregate to verify this for yourself because their religious beliefs might offend your delicate sensiblities?

Is your stance an actual criticism or are you just looking for a reason to project your own miserable bitchiness?

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 00:11 | 145847 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

I don't gripe about it nor do I care.  I just find it interesting  that a people who believe in some mythical character aren't up in arms over the commercialization of their biggest holiday (in the US at least, those are the stats we are looking at?).

I'm not miserable about it because it doesn't matter to me, I just find it interesting.

I love it how followers always assume that those of us who don't care are some how miserable or bitchy.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 21:45 | 145721 Missing_Link
Missing_Link's picture

Also, I never hear Christians getting pissed off that their biggest holiday has turned into this ridiculous month of consumption.

Every serious Christian I know bitches about this constantly.  You must not know any Christians.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 23:02 | 145781 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

But what are they doing about it?

My guess is nothing.

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 00:49 | 145884 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Xqueeze me. Are you blind? Of course they are doing something about it.

According to that chart above, they surely are going out and buying more shit they don't need with money they don't have.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:53 | 145518 geopol
geopol's picture


Mon, 11/30/2009 - 12:31 | 146274 exi1ed0ne
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Signed or unsigned?  ;)

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:40 | 145506 AnonymousMonetarist
AnonymousMonetarist's picture



Barron's 11/19/09

Apart from the shift in Black Friday last year (from week three to week four), which will impact weekly comparisons this year (aiding week three in particular), it should be noted that there will be one extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, which Kohl's indicated will be worth two comp points to December. Further, Hanukkah begins on Dec. 11 this year versus Dec. 22 last year, which may aid sales in week two of December.


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:42 | 145507 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

372 x 172 = 63984 mil
343 x 195 = 66885 mil
Total sales up more than 4.5%.

Best wishes from Kansas! -- Redbud

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:49 | 145638 reading
reading's picture

Spending rose to $41.2 billion from $41 billion a year earlier, the Washington-based trade group said in a statement today, citing a survey conducted by polling firm BIGresearch. NRF said it is sticking to a forecast for spending to fall 1 percent this season. While more people visited stores and Web sites, the average shopper spent $343.31, less than $372.57 a year ago, the retail federation said.


Nice try at green shoot resurrection, but if they could spin this at anything more than .5% they definitely would.

The number of shoppers at stores and on Web sites over the holiday weekend rose to 195 million from 172 million a year earlier

That is the total number of people trapsing through the mall, including the husband pushing the baby stroller with the twins for Wife who is spending $343...however, bringing the family helped bump the number of shopper metric up nicely!

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 22:26 | 145757 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

You are ignoring lost sales from 23 million people who would have shopped before Christmas last year - they have completed their shopping this year.

Follow up sales numbers will not be there....

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:42 | 145508 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

did my own survey 10AM friday morning.

walmart was a ghost town. cashier said the minute the discounted computers and TVs were gone, the crowds vaporized. had some people in it....looking at the purchases, tho, it looked like a lot of soda and typical household gifts, no TVs, no computers walking out of the store. Saturday, huge pile of TVs still stacked by the door.

11:00 Macy's - ghost town

11:15 Kohl's -- virtually empty parking lot....didn't bother to go in the store

11:30 Best Buy -- kind of busy, but no TVs walking out, looked to be good action in the CDs, and videos, small stuff.

Barnes & Noble was the busiest store.....what does that say? What is the most expensive thing B&N sells? Coffee table books for 200 bucks?

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:05 | 145649 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Were you wearing a fedora and long trench coat? You may want to include these details in your field report next time so it has some value.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:40 | 145678 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

what kind of details do you want? the stores surveyed were in northeastern MA.....

you want car counts? name of the walmart cashier? she was short, brunette, about 45-50, and at the regular (versus grocery) end of the store....and she was BORED.

target cashier was male, about 25, and also BORED out of his mind. said he had been in the store since five and never had more than three people in his line.

don't know what else you want -- unless you want some CNBC propaganda about the resilient consumer.....and how great sales were.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 21:15 | 145699 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

So negative.

You do know that Jim Jones used Flavor Aid (not kool aid) in the vat to make it more palatable going down, right?

Enjoy the sweet taste of increased sales, anon 145649

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 21:18 | 145702 Jeff Lebowski
Jeff Lebowski's picture

So negative...

You do know that Jim Jones used Flavor Aid (not Kool-Aid) in the vat to make the potassium cyanide and potassium chloride more palatable, right?

Enjoy the sweet tast of increased sales, Anon 145649!

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 01:19 | 145910 1984
1984's picture

My black Fri observations from the bay area:


10:50 am - strolled into Pepboys to buy heavily discounted Mobil 1 synthetic oil (6-11am only).  Still piles of it left.


11:30 am - went to OSH, bought a tool box at 50% off.  Plenty left.  A bunch of ppl milling around looking at power tools.  Didn't see any actually at the cashiers paying for tools.


2:30 pm - went to Valley Fair in SJ.  The crowd is not heavy like usual.  But there were many ppl picking through piles of 50% off items at Macy's.  Didn't buy anything 'cause it's same old crap as last year or the year before.  Even at 50% off they're still overpriced crap that I don't need.  Also went by Express, the Gap, Banana, Guess, and a few others.  Again,  many ppl picking through the discount racks and piles.  Did not see many bags.  Did see a small crowd in Coach.  The busiest place is a trendy FM shoe shop whose name I don't recognize or recall.  You know, women and their shoes... One surprising thing is I saw a small crowd in William Sonoma while Crate & Barrel is grave yard at midnight.  Checked out the poster in front of the WS store... Some non-stick pots on sale from $259 to $59 among others.  Wonder if that has something to do with it.  Also noticed that a few trendy fashion joints that did not advertise sales are completely empty.  Didn't have time to check out the high end shops across the street.


I definitely don't see the buying frenzy like previous years.


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:47 | 145512 digalert
digalert's picture

Through my non scientific word on the street analysis, I'll say we're "more worser" (a CNBS term) this time. Shoppers last year, tight purse, this year, same. Retailors last year, don't expect bargains because business is hurting, this year, same. So the message is the same but the numbers are down.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:31 | 145543 Dr o love
Dr o love's picture

I would add that besides the super duper black Friday specials ("limited to XXX per store"), I don't really see a lot of compelling bargains out there.  My sources at Fed Ex tell me business is booming but I think most of the junk retailers bought to "build inventories" is staying on the shelf.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:51 | 145514 trx
trx's picture

UniCredit: US holiday shopping season – no reason to celebrate


“The US economy exited the worst recession since WWII in 3Q 2009. Real GDP showed pretty robust growth in the summer months of 3% (annual rate). But that is merely "borrowed" growth. We expect an expansion of "only" 1% for the first half of 2010. Support of private consumption is still missing for a self-sustaining upswing. The recovery will, therefore, be W-shaped.”


“The Fed is now pursuing a Quantitative Easing Policy. Since the economic upswing should not be sustainable, the US central bank will likely adhere to its current ultra-expansionary monetary policy well into next year. But it could start to tighten verbally at the turn of the year.”


UniCredit: Friday Notes.


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:53 | 145517 Pedro
Pedro's picture

Marketwatch reports 0.5% higher this year than last year.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:00 | 145520 Dixie Normous
Dixie Normous's picture

You know who all the extra people were at the mall who were not buying anything?  They were all the different tracking agencies counting each other.

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 02:39 | 145951 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

The MarketWatch story referred to a 1/2% increase in total sales, not in "shoppers". But since that's less than the rate of inflation, it's a slight decrease in real terms.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:14 | 145531 Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

I am Jacks statistical insignificance.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:55 | 145519 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I'm not a fan of statistical analysis with such small sample data. Give me a graph of the last 30 years please.

In your current graph 2005 looks like a dismal year but accordingly it was not.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:51 | 145684 Pedro
Pedro's picture

Right away sir.  Would you like fries with that?

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:00 | 145521 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I believe that the increase of shoppers is largely due to 10+ million new un- and under-employed individuals. It's simple: if one person in the household still has a job, the one without a job and nothing else to do (but still little money) would naturally line up in front of WalMart @3am, but would only grab most discounted items.
Unlike in the years past, he will not be coming back and buying more "gifts", this it it!

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:10 | 145525 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

The numbers still look good compared to the three years prior to 2008.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:26 | 145537 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

Unemployed people have lots of time to stand in line.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:50 | 145563 Uomo senza nome
Uomo senza nome's picture

I, the American homogeneous consumer, am trying to find a magic wand that will turn my house into a credit card once more. Then I can spend, spend, spend! Thank you, Mr. Keynes.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:50 | 145564 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I thought about getting in line at Costco, I mean I can get rid of this Stonehenge 70' rear projection and get into a 55" panel for $1900. Then I thought the 70" works and they will even be cheaper after Christmas.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 22:03 | 145733 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

And the 70" rear projector has a 70" fresnel lens inside it. In SHTF world, it'll boil water, start fires, melt metal, incinerate trash, etc. Just make sure to have some welding goggles handy.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 17:55 | 145566 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

answer=we're fucked.


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 18:19 | 145576 Zippyin Annapolis
Zippyin Annapolis's picture

Suprised, why?

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 18:20 | 145577 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

The American consumer is the krill at the bottom of the food chain.

Without easy credit he doesn't buy.

And if he doesn't buy whales at the top of the chain die.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 18:56 | 145599 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Great analogy!

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:55 | 145643 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

And don't forget that the American consumer used to make up 70% of the U.S. GDP. Which in turn means he was the biggest contributor to the world's GDP.

And through globalization, the world decided to shaft him. Thus died the Goose which was laying the Golden Eggs.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 18:52 | 145596 Yankee
Yankee's picture

The pisser in this is that anybody showed up.  Gotta buy Credit card issuers on monday - any spending at 30% is big earnings when COGS is 0

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 01:37 | 145923 1984
1984's picture

Uhhh.  Sorry to break it to you.  That 30% is nowhere near making up for the dead beats that can't pay.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:08 | 145608 Ned Zeppelin
Ned Zeppelin's picture

I don't believe a word the "National Retail Federation" says. Show me the state by state actual retail sales tax returns. As for the number or "shoppers," don't they seem to be saying that well over half of the US population, counting in every man, woman and child in this country, went shopping on Friday? Doesnt that strike anyone as the least bit odd?  I know from the people around me we did not contribute our share towards this statistic.

Lies, lies, and more lies - it is tiring. No one is loading up their 29.95% APR cards this year.  Forget it - even when it is all said and done, if they say the season was a success, we'll find out it was all lies.

Want to crack open your head in time for the New Year, and take the red pill? Get a copy of Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Inc. - Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:24 | 145619 deadhead
deadhead's picture

As for the number or "shoppers," don't they seem to be saying that well over half of the US population, counting in every man, woman and child in this country, went shopping on Friday? Doesnt that strike anyone as the least bit odd?

I thought it was a typo at first.....I find it incomprehensible to believe that 195 million went shopping in stores/online.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:55 | 145642 reading
reading's picture

Well, it might not take much if you find out how they measured "clicks" for the online portion.  Seriously, it is clear they had to find a number that was better than last year and this was the only one they could find? 

If an American goes to the mall on black friday, but doesn't spend any money is he still shopping?


Their metric is counting traffic -- if everyone continues spending 7.8% less than they did last year it's going to be a very ugly holiday season in retail land.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 22:07 | 145742 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

My spending has gone up these lat two holiday seasons. MORE GUNS, ALOT MORE GOLD and even more AMMO to my already bulging stash!
GL to all.
Love ZH!

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 01:42 | 145930 1984
1984's picture

Liar!  Just where the hell can find ammo?

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:19 | 145614 Edna R. Rider
Edna R. Rider's picture

Yet with all this bad news futures are up 5.5 pts in the opening minutes.  I love this market.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:22 | 145617 deadhead
deadhead's picture

It's the Fed jumping the shark.....again.  ho hum.


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 19:27 | 145623 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Just off a Delta flight from SLC to Atlanta.

Empty seats galore on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Go figure.

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 00:13 | 145849 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I'm a controller at New York Center, the busiest en route facility. The sunday evening after Thanksgiving has always been one of the biggest traffic shifts of the year. It was not noticeably more busy than usual on tonight's 3-11 shift. I didn't work Wednesday night (usually THE busiest shift of the year) but I was told it was pretty dead also.

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 00:20 | 145857 Marla Singer
Marla Singer's picture

New York Center, contact Marla Singer on marla@zh point five.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:12 | 145656 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

"Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, said the slim sales increase was a good sign."


"In 2008, Black Friday sales measured by ShopperTrak rose 3 per cent compared to the prior year's Black Friday. Last year's entire holiday season marked the worst performance in nearly 40 years."

How bad was last year:

So even though Black Friday sales were up 3% last year they were still down 3% for the whole season. Yet somehow this terrible showing driven by 23 million extra shoppers means positive growth. *facepalm*

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:13 | 145658 AN0NYM0US
Sun, 11/29/2009 - 22:11 | 145746 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I personally have increased my spending both online and box stores these past 18 months. ALOT MORE GUNS, ven more AMMO to my already bulging stash of AMMO and a safe to hold it all till i "bug out".

Love ZH!

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:20 | 145666 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I was out at 6am in the Philadelphia suburbs. I thought the crowds were down big from last year. I got what I wanted and had no wait at Staples, Kmart, Radio Shack. At Office Depot, I didn't get the dlink N wireless router, but I got the cheap UPS. There were signs of crowds and items left in random places so they must have been busy at some point. Wal-mart had lots of cashiers and no lines. Until that point the longest line I waited in was 4 people deep. Last year I waited in line for 45 minutes to check out at Staples!

The line for breakfast at Panera at 9:30 was longer than any line so far, 20 people. The cashier said they'd been packed since opening at 6. They were out of Chocolate pastries.

After that, went to Best Buy (still no lines, but there was lots of trash so there must have been a good line ), then Tractor Supply and Walgreens ($9.99 hovercraft).

We went to the King of Prussia mall after lunch and it was very crowded! There was a long line at the Apple store to get in because they were only letting in 6 people at a time.
Cheesecake Factory had a line to get in, but we just walked in to California Pizza with no wait.

There were lots of people in the mall, most of them just walking around ( like us ). I'd say Friday was pretty bleak for most retailers.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 20:57 | 145688 deadhead
deadhead's picture

some numbers.

195 million people "shopped" online/stores.

approx. usa population 310 million-ish.

approx. usa population under age 18, 77 million.

ergo,  233 million adults, with 195 million "shopping" equals 84%.

does this mean if you bought a loaf of phucking bread over the weekend you counted?


Sun, 11/29/2009 - 22:15 | 145749 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

As someone else pointed out, the key data will not be these preliminary numbers. It will be the restocking strategies of the retailers.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 22:36 | 145762 JR
JR's picture

Did the Fed steal Christmas, again?  NRF sees a meager 1% increase in spending from last year’s worst Christmas buying decline in 40 years. At the same time, America’s retirees are lining up for lunches in soup kitchens along with the homeless in huge numbers; and a mind-boggling 543,926 (“seasonally”unadjusted) Americans filed initial claims for unemployment insurance the week ending Nov. 21 while a 4-week moving average of 5,613,750 Americans the week ending Nov. 14 were living on unemployment checks—all a part, no doubt, of the Fed’s “Statistical Recovery” and Goldman Sachs’s market euphoria. And, as reports are coming in, it may get worse.

The job market, of course, is worse than it’s ever been for years because of the way the feds fail to report jobs losses. In short, it’s very serious.

And the big guys are getting “Sated Risk Appetites.”  Says Barron’s (Nov.30), “The State Street Investor Confidence Index, a measure of risk-taking behavior by global institutional investors, has been in retreat since summer, and in November hit its lowest level since the financial crisis climaxed in March… [R]isk-seeking behavior has been in general decline since 2000.  But the recent retrenchment confirms anecdotal evidence that—despite stock markets reaching new rally highs in recent weeks—the big money has hunkered down for yearend.”

Here are the news highlights:

From today:

NRF (National Retail Federation) said it is sticking to a forecast for spending to fall 1 percent this season.

Holiday sales make up a third or more of retailers’ annual profit. The International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group, predicted sales at stores open at least a year will advance 1 percent in November and December after a year-earlier 5.8 percent decline, the worst in 40 years.

From The Spokesman-Review November 29, 2009:

Preliminary sales data from Martin’s organization, 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…

But its (Black Friday’s) importance has faded in recent years as merchants started hawking the deep discounts usually reserved for that day well in advance.

For example, last year’s Black Friday spending grew from $10.3 billion to about $10.6 billion. But overall holiday spending fell 4.4 percent as shoppers slowed spending as the holiday season went on.

At the same time, Pacific Garden Mission in Redding, California, which houses and feeds people free and normally gives out about 300 lunches a month to people who don’t live in the mission, last month gave out 2300 lunches, according to a radio report today. 

And an AP story today, Seniors Turn to Food Pantries as Economy Sinks, reports that seniors are  having trouble making it on their Social Security as recession hits home with increased food prices, and mortgages and utility bills they can’t pay—“after seeing retirement funds, second jobs and nest eggs wiped out by recession.”  So, they’ve started eating their meals at food pantries and soup kitchens set up around the country by churches, missions and other organizations.  Many seniors say they have exhausted their savings (as Bernanke’s big-bank-bailout-below-inflation rates forces them to eat principal); others say they have been hurt by a falling stock market. But, in general, according to news accounts, most are hurting.. One retiree interviewed by AP owns a two-bedroom condo and a Lexus, and works a part-time job as a security guard to pay for “rent, food and medication.  His dilemma? He has depleted his savings and makes too much to get welfare but not enough to live on. For the Thanksgiving holidays, he expected to get a food box and turkey from The Pantry of Broward.

“Older people also have the added disappointment of no cost-of-living increase in Social Security checks this year…

“Anthony Butler, executive director of St. John’s Bread and Life, a Brooklyn food pantry and soup kitchen, said some of the newest needy were former volunteers, comfortable in their retirement. Now they’re clients.”

Says the AP,  “Catholic Charities USA, which has 170 agencies across the country helping the needy, issued a 2009 third-quarter report that found a 54 percent increase in requests for food and services from seniors nationwide compared to the same period last year.”

And this from John Maudlin:

More Government Data Fun:
Unemployment Claims Were Not Down

The headlines said that initial claims dropped to 466,000 here in the US, finally falling below 500,000. This was greeted with proclamations of recovery. First, let me say that 466,000 people filing for unemployment is still way too high. That is a lot of people losing their jobs, and when we first crossed over 450,000 a few years ago that level was seen as a sign of recession.

Second, the headline number was a seasonally adjusted number. The actual number was 543,926. What is happening is that we are coming off of wickedly high numbers in 2008 and a seasonal number that was much lower in the preceding years. It is another part of the Statistical Recovery. And this trend is likely to keep on for the rest of the quarter. My friend John Vogel, who analyzes the unemployment numbers for me each week, shows pretty convincingly that the average for this current quarter will be over 500,000 per week on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. This is less than a 10% drop from last year for the same quarter. Job losses are continuing to mount, and we are on our way to an 11%-plus unemployment number by next summer. Statistical Recovery, indeed.

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 03:03 | 145963 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

who the fuck would be at a store at 5a on a holiday? i wouldn't be at a store at that time of day to collect free money.....

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 03:16 | 145972 chindit13
chindit13's picture

How do you get 195 million shoppers out of a population of 306 million?  Well, unless the spotters tagged every shopper they saw, a little double counting was probably the order of the day.  Take Anon 145508 above, who sleuthed a host of stores to judge customer flow.  No doubt he counts for at least 6 of the day's 195 million.

And what other method do they have for guesstimation?  Calling landline phones?  So if nobody answered, they must have been shopping as opposed to being at work or at Aunt Freida's house or simply sleeping off Thursday meal?

Mark Twain is more correct every day, "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics".

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 04:37 | 146005 hytsang
hytsang's picture

Would someone explain this inconsistency for me ?

"According to NRF’s Black Friday shopping survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend*, up from 172 million last year. However, the average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago. Total spending reached an estimated $41.2 billion."

and according to the survey results and historical Black Friday data, total spending in previous Black Friday was $41.0 billion.

Average spending x Number of shoppers = Total spending
2009:  $343.31 x 195M = $66.945B

=> Q1) why this is not $41.2B as showed in the survey ?

2008:  $372.57 x 172M = $64.082B

=> Q2) why this is not $41.0B as showed in the survey ?
I sent an email to Kathy Grannis, Manager, Media Relations, National Retail Federation, and this is their answer ......

"Call BIGresearch about this, there are survey methods they would know that we don't since they conducted it"

The survey was obviously conducted by BIGresearch for NRF. But I'm surprised that NRF do not know what is happening.


Mon, 11/30/2009 - 09:47 | 146107 Pat Hand
Pat Hand's picture

Nothing to report other than anecdotal.  I'm staying in San Francisco near Union Square.  Saturday shopping, I asked many sales clerks how things were going.  Typical response: "OK yesterday but not as many shoppers today as we expected"  Plenty of people walking around (absurdly beautiful day, clear, 65...) without shopping bags.  Or, with bags from TJ Maxx.  On November sales, I'll take the "unders".

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 14:15 | 146365 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Honestly, is it not possible that there were actually 195 million shoppers? It just means the uptick in sales was the sole result of greater foot traffic. Seriously if the foot traffic had been the same you would be talking about sales going down 8%. If November actually shows 3% growth from last year as some are saying it can only mean sales declines of doomsday proportions in December.

Mon, 12/14/2009 - 02:02 | 162935 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Thank You!! you help me with my economics project! I get it!!!! =)

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