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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Mike in GA's picture

Unfortunately it's OUR goose that's cooked, NOT Obummer's. :(

blunderdog's picture

Good God, man, you can't eat THOSE!  They'll kill you!

ebworthen's picture

"Two chickens in every rotisserie."

Obama and both parties will double down on FDR, and confiscate Silver along with Gold (and your 401K and IRA).

Don't worry, you'll have chicken grown somewhere and fed something, and a $500 co-pay and 40% deductible for "healthcare".

MilleniumJane's picture

Free Pepper Spray With All Sales

Nice touch!

PUD's picture

A lot of "energy" out there? Perhaps he was referring to fat? Fat is nothing but stored energy. Maybe shoptrak should count poundage instead of feet to give a more accurate "energy" rating?

mumcard's picture

Tonnage sir, like how the WWII submarine service kept track of their kills.

Atomizer's picture

Black Friday Store Stampede![Compilation] 

China: The Roots of Madness (1967) Documentary Film


180° blowback arrives in the form of a party favor. This gift lands in the laps of central planning aids who claim no fiduciary responsibility.

‘We just miscalculated our forecasted accounting model, you cannot possibly hold us responsible.’

Sure we can fuckwit, we’ll expose the monies you were paid to create this crisis.


Picking Losers, Why Cronyism Isn't Capitalism

woggie's picture

the beast is on the gobble
and all that matters is we're all headed for it's belly

supafuckinmingster's picture

Woggie: Stop posting that video you annoying dickhead.

Miss Expectations's picture

The Grinch and Van Rompuy another example of Separated at Birth.

azzhatter's picture

i always thought von rumpboy was an abortion that went south

yogibear's picture

LOL, Van Rompuy does look like the Grinch!

Squid Vicious's picture

Maybe today will be Black Sunday, like the movie...?

gould's fisker's picture

Sales rose one percent adding in Thursday, well a little less than one percent, so what the hell is wrong with that! We were told before the election that we were getting an expansionary cycle, and technically that's what we're still getting. Who can complain about that--we'll spin it just fine.  The only aspect just a little worrying is that most of the "shoppers" crashing the doors look like they'd take out a family member to get what they want, except if the rent money is already spent, etc. Forward!

SilverIsKing's picture

Black Friday sounds racist to me. We need something a little more politically correct.

How about 'low life Friday' or 'stupid Friday?'

Sisyphus's picture

How about:

Absorbs all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflects no/some light to the eyes Friday.

slackrabbit's picture

great, so now your insulting blind people... ;-)

ebworthen's picture

"Freaky Friday"

Humans switch minds with a chimp or gorilla somewhere in the world.

azzhatter's picture

i shopped online friday. bought 20 oz of silver

Translator's picture

It's Bush's fault

laomei's picture

People buying stupid shit they neither need, nor actually even want.  If marketing got you to buy a thing, odds are it will leave you feeling hollow inside moments after getting it... why? Because someone smarter than you got your little monkey brain to see a shiny thing and pull the purchase trigger.


Don't buy on credit, only buy what you can afford, and don't surround yourself with cheap tacky fall-apart crap.  Tons of really nice stuff is made in China too, the problem is that you are only focused on "saving money" and as such, in the end you piss away your money on a product that was designed to break and be replaced 6 months later.  Buy nice things that are easy to fix and cheap to maintain.  Buy things that make future cheap purchases look out of place and tacky.  


And dear god, you idiotic consumer monkeys, do your damned research.  Just the act of researching a product 99 times out of 100 will lead to you either not even wanting it, or getting something of far better value.  Fall prey to the upsell, but only when it's you actually pulling the trigger.  If you decide you can "afford" a thing that's $100 and later discover that it's a cheap piece of crap while nice well-spec'd, meets-your-needs, good things cost $400... you're basically just burning the $100.  Save till you can afford the $400.  No instant gratification, no credit, just fucking save.  While you are in the process of saving, you might find you don't even want it anymore and it was just a passing thought that got stuck in your head from some shithead marketer.


Ask yourselves these fundamental questions:

1) Do I actually need this thing in my life?  

2) Will I need this thing in my life 3-5 years from now? 

3) Why do I want this thing? 

4) Will it make me more productive? 

5) Will it add benefit to my life?

6) Do I only want it because I saw someone else with it? 

It really has to do with the old maxim "know thyself".  Most people don't even know who the fuck they are anymore.  They are just an assortment of "stuff", other people's opinions, corporate-inspired values and sound bytes.  It's a culture of showing shit off to disparage others and buying stuff to fill a gaping unfillable hole in a life not worth living.  Are you buying that apple iThing because it actually improves your life? Is v5 better than v4s to such a large degree that you must spend money to replace a functioning iThing?  Is it better than other, cheaper alternatives? Or... are you just buying shit to show off?  


I have a leg in marketing, I know how it works and I just firewall myself and my family to it.  I never get burned on purchases anymore.... because I do my research.  I'm never left with shit I don't want or need that just sits there.  Our monthly savings rate is over 100%, we live on interest and stash everything else away.  And we actually live pretty damned well.  No car payments, no mortgage, and the only rent we deal with is the rent we collect from our old apartment.  

shovelhead's picture

My waffle iron doesn't leave me feeling hollow.

In fact, it makes me feel quite the opposite. The sheer joy I feel when I see a golden brown disc of buttermilk gracing my fine bone china is literally transcendental.

The neighbors are green with envy.

They hate me for my waffle iron.

Mission accomplished.

infinity8's picture

LOL. . . too funny. Seriously, I make most Christmas gifts but the one that I'm for certain buying this year is a really good waffle iron for a friend that has bitched for a long time about the succession of crappy waffle irons he keeps buying that keep breaking. He will thank me most the next week, after he uses it. New Year's Waffles!

ebworthen's picture

My waffle iron is a barbarous relic as it was made in the U.S.A.

Whoa Dammit's picture

liomei's questions also work well when assessing relationships with the opposite sex. ;-)

Real Estate Geek's picture



burn him . . . burn him . . .

laomei's picture

You become really fucking jaded to the world when your professional life is all about marketing and helping megacorps figure out how to scam consumers into paying more for less.  Meh.

max2205's picture

But is the music still playing?

ar01's picture

Tyler, do you have the raw data somewhere? I think the net sales shouldn't be as important, but rather the sales/person. Since wealth/income inequity in this country is increasing, a better metric for the "health" of the American consumer should be how much was spent per person.

Conman's picture

No i think the analysis given is correct. Net sales yoy in context of a rising population yoy and rising inflation yoy is very appropriate metric. What it means is that sales/pp being contant sals should have risen solely based on # of people and inflation.

ar01's picture

Right -- I guess I think there's more 'wisdom' to pull out, if it also turns out that individuals are spending less. I'd love to see a trendline of that. 

Conman's picture

Whip out your excel. You have census figures and sales figures somewhere.

Boondocker's picture

even my "spend money we dont have" sisters-in-laws arent doing Christmad this year.....

Things that go bump's picture

Christmas is bound to go back to being something much more modest then the retail monster it has morphed into, no matter how badly retail wants to keep the party going.  If you're worried about keeping a roof over the family's head or the lights turned on, or the car running, or wondering if you can stretch the groceries until payday, well these are much more pressing concerns than the latest igadget.  Christmas will probably become something more homemade and centered more around visiting and family gatherings as people have less money to spend.  I personally will never forget the Christmas my great aunt made us all bleach bottle piggy banks.  This is absolutely true.  I swear it on the heads of my grandchildren.  We were disappointed at the time, but we still laugh about it 50 years later. I will never forget the pink felt dot glued to the cap, or the pink felt ears or the curly pipe cleaner tail. They were sort of minimalist.  I so wish I had a picture. However, my godmother, who was crafty, sewed me a whole Barbie wardrobe the year I got my Barbie (the very first year they came out).  She was the best dressed Barbie in the neighborhood.  


Next to Arch Stanton's picture

As a kid growing up in the 70s, Thanksgiving was a "stand-alone" holiday and was really enjoyable, instead of the obstacle to the grotesque Xmas season it is now.  My recollection was Xmas was celebrated for about 3 weeks and was not focused on "stuff" or even the act of shopping (I could be wrong there - I was a kid busy playing in the snow, etc).  

Scrooge is starting to look like a sensible guy.


hairball48's picture

I grew up in the 50's and 60's. You are NOT wrong. The marketing weenies have destroyed the meaning of all holidays....but that's what the sheeples wanted.

Things that go bump's picture

They want what they are told they want and they will try to get it until they simply cannot get anymore credit.  My mother had a Christmas Club account that she put a few bucks away in every payday. No matter what emergency cropped up, if the water heater broke, or the car needed a new battery, or someone broke their glasses, that money wasn't touched.  I notice that some of the stores have been offering lay away again, which was a common practice years ago.  

Real Estate Geek's picture

I remember advent calendars. 

Without a peel-off coupon behind every window.

Blizzard_Esq's picture

Not very scientific but I noticed...

1. Newegg's black friday was a bomb. Nearly everything sold out last year, but this year most of the sales items this year were junk Rosewill branded.  Very few items sold out. 

2. Macy's I noticed raised prices on black friday, their Nov 10 one day sale was better. 

3. The long line was artificially created at Fry's Electronics as they had 1/2 as many cash registers open as last year. 

4. There were more online deals with Sears, Walmart, Fry's, Best Buy etc. people seemingly stayed home. 


"Deals" were not that great, people went online which lowered in store impulse buys. 

Conman's picture

My observation was that people msut have 12 tvs in thier houses by now. Thats the only thing on sale.  I welcome AAPL to roll out the iTV. I'll be balls the the wall short that day.

Blizzard_Esq's picture

I tried to giveaway an old box of a TV to the hispanic gardner. He politely said he had flat panels in every room of his home. I was flaggergasted....

centerline's picture

lol.  Same here actually.  Couldn't give the damn TV away.  No one wanted it.  Everyone has more than they need.

Northern Lights's picture

Back in 1990, a cousin of mine was working in an electronics store called HQE which was going out of business/bankrupt.  My dad picked up a 30 inch Sony Trinitron tv set for $200 on the cheap.  It was a floor display model no less.  Back then they were going for $800 a pop.  I was 15 years old.

It's 2013 and I still watch this same tv!  When I moved out for university I took the tv with me.  In 2004 I had the voltage regulator replaced.  No problems since.  This set will easily last another 10 years at this rate.  Picture is crisp, sound is great.

I get laughed at by all the guys at work.  Most have already owned 10 different flat screens in the past 8 years.  Indirect benefit of owning such an old tv is I'm not wasting my money on Xbox's and Playstations because none of them are compatible with my tv.


DavidC's picture

Northern Lights,
I'm with you 100%. Mum and Dad gave me their old Hitachi CRT in the 1990s, a lovely picture with great colours, I'm still using it - they gave me a Hitachi flat screen when they upgraded their next TV, it resides upstairs until the CRT goes!

A couple of years ago a friend of mine was throwing out three 24 inch Samsung monitors as they had stopped working or were working intermittently (I'd already offered to have a go at repairing them for him). He gave them to me as he'd bought new ones and was literally ready to throw them out. £20 in new (HIGHER QUALITY!) capacitors later, I had three perfectly working monitors with great pictures (which will now probably outlast me!).

My computer speakers gave out several weeks ago (active 35W sub woofer and 2 12.5W satellites). After much hunting around I was quoted nearly £100 to investigate and MAYBE repair them. Nearly £200 to get a near equivalent set new. Looking at the pre/power amp board, all that had happened was that several components had burnt out and the board had failed. I've sourced a good-ish board from China on eBay for less than £10.

A friend of mine gave me his Rega record deck this weekend as there was something wrong with it. An hour or so last night and it was sorted for him and nice bottle of Merlot today by way of thanks.

Most (all?) thinking people are getting fed up with built in obsolescence or the notion that something should be replaced because it's a couple of years old, when it's perfectly good or possibly just needs a repair. Your friends will get there at some point.


Snoopy the Economist's picture

My tv is a 27" tube tv that I bought used for $70 on craigslist - I have enough cash to buy any wall of tvs at best buy. The price of flat screens is now low enough for me to consider...but I am too cheap to spend on such crap. I let my wife make impulsive buys but she keeps the purhasing lower than most females.