Retailers Blame Drop In Black Friday Sales On Black Thursday

Tyler Durden's picture

With all bad news on the tape now having a suitable "explanation", be it a prior president, a tropical storm, the weather being too hot, the weather being too cold, the weather being just right, but never, ever someone actually taking blame for the fact that life is what happens when corporate CEOs (and sovereign presidents) are busy making "priced to perfection" plans. So it is with what is now a confirmed flop of a Black Friday, which according to ShopperTrak saw sales drop by nearly 2% to $11.2 from 2011, which in turn was a 6.6% gain over 2010 (and would be revised to far lower once all the refunds and exchanges to cash took place in the two weeks later). This occurred despite a 3.5% increase in retail foot traffic to 307.7 million store visits. The nominal drop in retail sales also occurred despite a nearly 1% increase in the total US population over last Thanksgiving, and a 2% Y/Y inflation. But fear not: the ad hoc excuse for this "surprising" loss in purchasing power is already handy: it is all Black Thursday's fault, or the latest idiotic attempt by retailers to cannibalize their own future sales by diluting the exclusivity of Black Friday, and which will force all retailers to follow the sovereigns in a race to the bottom, as soon every day will be the equivalent of Black Friday. But at least retailers have another 364 years worth of excuses for the conceivable future to excuse any and all store weakness. Next year: it's all Black Wednesday's fault.

From Bloomberg:

Retailers have turned Black Friday, once a one-day event after Thanksgiving, into a week’s worth of deals and discounts. With the earlier openings, online deals starting as far back as last weekend and new promotions stores are offering to win return visits, shopping malls were less hectic on Black Friday this year, said Ramesh Swamy, an analyst at Deloitte LLP.


“Retailers are going to pace themselves and start rolling out different types of promotions to keep consumers interested,” Swamy said today in a telephone interview from Pasadena, California. Shoppers visiting stores this weekend are getting coupons that can be used starting next week or after Dec. 1 to lure them back, he said.


“This was a decent two days, and so that’s a good base and foundation for the rest of the holiday season,” Bill Martin, founder and executive vice president of ShopperTrak, said in a telephone interview today. “It will just take time see to see if consumers spent all their money or if they’ll take another bite of the apple as the season matures.”

What money? The 3.3% national savings rate which just happens to be the lowest in the past 3 years?

Unless by money ShopperTrak merely means to the largely synonymous: "tapped out credit cards."

There is also hope that consumers are ignoring the fact that they simply don't have disposable income, and have instead "charged it" online. "This is the year that mobile finally went mainstream,” Anuj Nayar, a PayPal spokesman, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Many people finished Thanksgiving meals and then shopped on their tablets or phones, he said."

Or, far more likely, just passed out. As for the year "mobile finally went mainstream", that was 2008, then 2009, then 2010, then 2011. It will also "finally go mainstream" next year, and the year after...

And while savings may have collapsed, disposable incomes non-existent, and average hourly wages rising at the lowest pace in... well ever, people still at least have their confidence.

Retailers had increasingly confident consumers visiting stores this weekend. More Americans this month said the U.S. economy will improve than at any time in the past decade, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. The share of households saying it would get better rose to 37 percent, the highest since March 2002. A year ago, the measure showed a record number of consumers said it was a bad time to spend.

Funny, because a couple of paragraphs lower in the same story, Bloomberg says this:

There is a lot of belt-tightening by companies going on and people are still losing their jobs,” said Bettini, who with her husband, Randy, raises grapes, mushrooms and vegetables on a family farm. They also plan to give gift baskets with homemade cider. “People are trying to get by the best way they can.”

What is the confidence-USD exchange rate anyway, or hope-EUR? And how does that look priced in energy terms. Why energy?

“We’re encouraged by what we’re seeing out there,” Mark Breitbard, president of Gap Inc.’s North America division for its namesake brand, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “There’s a lot of energy in the malls right now, which is great.”

Let's see here: "hope", "confidence", "consideration" and now "energy." By the time the depression is over, everyone will be flat out broke, but at least everyone will know every possible synonym of "bullshit" imaginable.

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vast-dom's picture

OT future of US housing (and shopping):!0B070033-700D-4F59-8F9B-E38C15E5F038


and everyone already knows the "bullshit" synonyms, they just don't realize the level of bullshit they're deluding themselves into.

Fukushima Sam's picture

What I wish for Christmas:


  1. Every day is Christmas!
  2. All the rich food I can eat!
  3. More money than I am able to spend!

Thank you, Uncle Bernank!  I love you!

derek_vineyard's picture

kick the can! kick the can!  one more shopping spree

TruthInSunshine's picture

***From Reuters News Wire Services***


"Retailers have been left scratching their heads after motley crew, zombie-like, broke-dick hordes descended on their stores, laying waste to property & personnel, purchasing loss-leader doorbuster specials only, such as $97 180" 1080p 3D HDTVs, $5 "Richard Simmons" Shake Weights, $4.50 Fuax Jimmy Choos shoes & $8.88 Heche En China Coach Handbags, $2.50 Jack Welch Toasters, $5 Nautica Scented Toilet Water, $19.99 The Ben "Buzz Lightyear To Infinity & Beyond" Bernanke Edition HP/Play-Doh Fiat Printer, 100 Pack-for-$10 Victoria Secret Thongs, $1 Sri Lankan made Turtle Necks (made by 5 year old expert craftsman, $29.99 1001 piece Crafstman Lifetime Warranty Tool Sets (made in Myanmar), 3 cent can of Petsmart brand Fukushima Flounder Cat Food, $9.99 Sodomize-Me-Elmo-Because-Everyone-From-Goldman-To-My-Puppeteer-Is-Doing-It, and $5 The-Timmay-Geithner-Elf-Who-Sits-On-The-Shelf, charging these things to their 39.99% Credit Cards, and making immediate bee lines for the exit doors."

hairball48's picture

ROFLMAO!! Sad part is that it's true :(

cesarsp_us's picture

Heche En China Coach handbags....really funny stuff 

duo's picture

Our founding fathers warned us that democracy was mob rule.  Now that you see how the mob behaves, doesn't the future look bright?

13thWarrior's picture

Jack Welch Toasters? Toasts star breads and burn underperforming ones.

stocktivity's picture does make a bit of sense that Black Friday sales would be lower if they began on Black Thursday.

Bobbyrib's picture

So combine this year's Black Thursday and Friday and compare it to last year's..

takeaction's picture

This is why.  This will fall into the category of "Classic"  It is a little long...but wait for the punch line.  This is America friends.

Bay of Pigs's picture

The USA has become a nation full of "non thinking" people, totally unaware and completely unenlightened. 

We also have enough drones by the looks of it (humans).

Frozen IcQb's picture

Of course the whole USEconomy is BS but these Black Friday stats are Bullish Babe!

A 2% drop will be spinnned as...nothing...NOTHING!

Just watch the Algos gobble it up more that the turkey they just ingested.


toady's picture

I saw the spin on the news a couple hours ago. All is well! ALL IS WELL! ANOTHER RECORD BREAKING YEAR!

Of course, no actual numbers were presented.

Frozen IcQb's picture

Sure enough just like clockwork: AAPL is up $3+ from Friday's close. AMZN & BBY up also.

tooriskytoinvest's picture

Stock Market Set To Sell Off Next Week: Argentina Nearing Technical Default, EU Budget Summit Heading Toward Failure, Black Friday Retail Sales Fell Nearly 2%, 30% of Businesses Had Put At Least Some Projects On Hold, And A Very Bad Fiscal Ciff Idea Is Floated

vast-dom's picture

stock market should have sold off since circa QE2 all day every day until SP was at 800, best case. no one knows anything timeframe-wise in this ponzi marketplace.


Max Keiser Crash is Coming:

Bicycle Repairman's picture

The stock market should have stayed sunk since 2000.  It has rebounded twice since then only because of the FED.  So the FED has kept the market aloft (ex. inflation) for over 12 years.

vast-dom's picture

correct. follow the bond bubble...(tyler may be v wrong re: TBT.)

disabledvet's picture

not to get technical but you have to factor in "returns after inflation" or "real returns" when asking "why does that number thingy keep doing that number thingy thing i don't want it to." here's a good intro: so let's explore what economists call "hedonic pricing" then: now let us proceed IMMEDIATELY to "hedonic pricing in real estate valuation." seems kind of vague...other than "your entire tax system is based upon it." so let us proceed to the link "sales comparison approach" which according to wiki "basically says the same thing as hedonic pricing." and there we see a very important term (no link of course) called "the sales adjustment grid." simply put "we will state the value of housing based on a few sales in the neighborhood and adjust accordingly." that would be adjust HIGHER accordingly actually. In other words "all i need to do is buy about 1000 homes in California a year in certain locations and that should give me a median price of...say...500,000." (Say HELLO TO BONUS BUCKS!) This is "bubble 101" folks...been practiced and refined ever since the end of World War II...which is pretty much how everything has been financed since World War II when gold was no longer legal tender (as in a "the price setting mechanism"...not "gold transferable to paper" but ALL paper transferable to gold at a set rate. Now it appears we have a California "real estate standard.") The ability to SUSTAIN such a bubble is a whole 'nother field of course...that get's into TRUE financial alchemy of which this site has been most expert at exploring. suffice to say "the best economists and financial, gurus in the world work in New York City" and "they're now exploring the economics of catastrophe vis a vis Sandy"...quite possibly first hand. This disaster will cause inflation and as a consequence a recession in the region of Downstate New York and the State of New Jersey and possibly Connecticut as well. so far the media coverage has been basically non-existent. "like it never happened" as they say. i've laughed at the paltry numbers for rebuilding not because they aren't right but because "they ask for little or nothing." if you want to know why Louisiana is one of the riches states in the world now whereas the Northeast continues to slide deeper and deeper into the abyss...look no further.

yogibear's picture

Another reason Bernanke and Fed will give to go into a full printing pumpathon.

Debt saturation is ignored. More debt dope for the dopes maxed out on credit.

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

A bit of real world anecdotal information:

A group of locals, including myself, attend The Turkey Rod Run each year. We normally go on Thanksgiving Day but this year went on Friday, a day later.

The Turkey Rod Run is a hot rod and custom auto show held in the infield of Daytona International Speedway each year. Approx 5,000 autos, trucks, motorcycles, show up to display, sell, barter, etc. Many vendors also attend.

The number of people that paid $15 to get into the infield was huge compared to other years. The number of sales was very low. We talked to many vendors and sellers and very little money was changing hands. It appeared to me that the greatest benefactor was the vendor renting 3 wheeled scooters at $70 per day. Soooo many fat people were riding around on the scooters that they were an actual danger to pedestrians. Next year I will resume attending on Thanks Giving Day when attendence is lower cause the fatties are stuffing their faces and not at the Rod Run.

I always check the prices of vehicles that interest me. The prices this year seemed about the same as last but I did see more 'OBO' signs. I know for a fact that restored vehicles prices are down about 50-70% from 2005. The exceptions are very rare vehicles and restorations by well known restorers that always brought premium prices.

This is not a scientific survey, just casual observations.

Stud Duck's picture

Your just noticing the rapid decline in values of collector cars and your from Indy??

Sold a Daytona Road Runner last year in Scotsdale, it only brought $270K and was expecting $340K. I did unload a 68 GTX for $53K last month, but actually had $38K in it, so made a little after the costly restoration. I and going to hold onto the convertable GTX that I just aquired, but not doing any repair at all as I am shifting all capital resources into more land. The values have damn near double in the last 3 years here and look like they are still headed for another doubling in the next four years with Barry's reelection.

Banks have been getting really jumpy lately on land purchases, but when I show them the cash flow of the new oil wells in the Panhandle of Oklahoma, revenue off the land and cattle, they have no choice.

I do advise them that in the 80's with high interest I watched my land devalue 60%, my cattle devalued 50% and the oil market collasped. The truck line lost less money with the trucks setting, than they did hauling. I try to let these young men in banking now that I am experienced in a devaluating economy and suspect that is what is they are afraid of. I tell them that a man named Volker did that to me and I do not see that comming soon, but when the interest rate start moving upward, you better have yourself in a non debt situation, or your going to loose it all, just as I did when I was in my mid thirties.

Back to the collector car market, I do not see anything that will turn it back around just continued downward prices. If your really interested in collector cars and how they are doing, just check out what 912 Porsches have done in the last 3 years!

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

I was not soliciting advice but offering anectodal information. I am well aware of what happens in the collectible auto market. I am not from Indy and don't know how you got that idea.

Good luck with your land purchases.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

Why buy a vintage Camaro, Charger, Challenger, Firebird or Mustang when you can buy a brand new retro version.  I know it's not the same, but these new cars are (at some level) a substitute good.

Disenchanted's picture



My bowl of gruel is just right...

Top_Kill's picture

The gun counter at Dick's was the only line I saw on Friday morning. I am anxiously waiting for the "NICS" hit and gun sales update. That is one area of sales we are guaranteed to see an increase. The ammo was almost completely gone. All that was left was unpopular caliber ammo. "Welocome to the recovery"!

Bad Attitude's picture

I was at the local Cabela's a week ago. Half the people in the store were in the gun department. Cabela's had some good Black Friday ammo prices, but not good enough to brave the long lines and traffic.

Dollar cost averaging works with buying ammo, too.

10mm's picture

Or shoppers via the net prefere to stay away from savage beasts standing in lines outside stores ready to pounce on each other.

BeaverFever's picture

Blame Canada.
We always get the damn blame...

gmrpeabody's picture

Frankly, I am shocked people here haven't linked it to Israel yet.

Bad Attitude's picture

There is definitely the personal safety aspect of avoiding the Black Friday sales events. I prefer to avoid high risk environments.

But hey, some people are willing to die for cheap Chinese junk. More power to them if that is what gives their life meaning.


Disenchanted's picture



Oh yeah, Friday 11/23/12 AP Headline:


Dow Jones Climbs Above 13,000 On 'Black Friday'


edit(forgot this part):

And early reports from retailers suggested strong consumer spending.




SpanishGoop's picture

Updated my dictionary, BFF is "Best Friends Forever" or "Big Fat Friend/Female" or "Black Friday Flop"


oddjob's picture

Grinch come early this year.

ghengis86's picture

How long can one pull future demand forward? The future goes on to infinity, right? Right?

Can someone get Krugmam to write an op-ed about this so I can understand more gooder?

CunnyFunt's picture

I wonder if the shoplifting rate increased.

Water Is Wet's picture

Apparently the new hottest thing to do is follow the delivery trucks, wait 'til they drop off and leave, then go take the package off the doorstep.

Mike in GA's picture

Wow, just wow!

It's a free Christmas, Charlie Brown!

PUD's picture

You never fail to give me the best laugh of the day!

TahoeBilly2012's picture

Don't worry that Japan Inc. is BK. Get um while you can!

takeaction's picture

Wow...took me a moment to see the detail inside the rotisserie cooker.  Awesome.