As investors eagerly await channel check reports on this upcoming Black Friday shopping bonanza to confirm the US consumer is still propping up the economy, there could be some unexpectedly bad news that may disappoint Wall Street.
First, the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has released new weather models that indicate a massive blast of arctic air could spread across the mid-Atlantic and North East regions during the upcoming holiday week, crippling shopping intentions and keeping millions of Americans away from their favorite retail outlet of choice.
ECMWF- Possibility of record cold temperatures through Black Friday
The brutally cold conditions could affect more than 120 million consumers during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
"A passing storm system will drag the coldest air of the season into the Northeast just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Temperatures will range from 20 to 30 degrees below average for the time of year later this week, leading to brutally cold conditions for many on both the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday. While colder temperatures and recent snow may trigger shoppers to get in the holiday spirit, brutally cold temperatures and wind chills may stifle some shoppers’ plans to venture out on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday for those doorbuster sales," said Ed Vallee, head meteorologist at Vallee Weather Consulting.
Shopping on #BlackFriday in the Northeast? Current morning low temperature forecast from the European model:— Ed Vallee | Vallee Wx Consulting (@EdValleeWx) November 18, 2018
Hartford CT: 2°F
Frozen shopping bags! pic.twitter.com/TTVl9MVhhm
Weather Prediction Center- "Highs 20-35 degrees below normal"
Wall Street has been struggling with uncertainty over a split Congress, monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve, tariffs, trade wars, peak corporate earnings, and the risk of a US slowdown next year if not outright recession.
However, the next round of bad news could emerge from the US consumer, as Lipper Alpha Insights recently warned that retailers could experience weak holiday sales. Add to that weather models pointing to a mini ice age for much of the East Coast during the holiday shopping week, and it could be a perfect storm of bad news that devastates retail sales during the all important Black Friday period.
"If we see any kind of disappointment in Black Friday sales, that is going to cause some real concern," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago.
Of course, the flipside is that life-threating arctic temperatures will be just the "one time" excuse analysts need to explain away a dismal Black Friday, and with the latest retail sales report already a major disappointment, it now appears that it will be virtually impossible to get a true read on US shopping intentions - and capabilities - as such behavior will be severely curtailed by the elements, an excuse which Wall Street analysts will gladly use to perpetuate a thesis that all remains well if only "global cooling" were not part of the picture.