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Black Friday May Be More Red Herring Than Sales Boon

Shoppers at a Wal Mart scramble for flat screen t.v.’s

So the numbers are starting to materialize and the news is not bright for retailers.  They got bodies into the stores but they just did not spend nearly as much as retailers had hoped.

A National Retail Federation survey shows 141 million shopped, up from 137 million last year.  But apparently they chose to hold onto their money a bit tighter than expected.  The survey shows shoppers dropped $57.4 billion, a 2.9% drop from 2012.

I spoke with management team members at four different retail outlets in Wichita Falls about their sales figures.  While none of them would get specific all agreed that the sheer numbers they had hoped for just were not there, at least in total numbers of shoppers.  But, as one of them stated, every year you ‘hope against hope for a complete blowout’.

2.9 % may not sound like a tremendous decrease, but in the grand scheme of retail sales, it speaks volumes.  But what does it mean?  My theory on the decline has three parts:

  1. Obamacare.  Millions have lost or will lose coverage and the fear that has been (deliberately) put into the hearts of the American people by the White House and congress with this Ponzi scheme / move toward a single-payer system has rattled cages and seized wallets.
  2. The real unemployment picture is far worse than the 7.3 % being reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  An AOL calculation from April of this year shows the real number at that time was closer to 11.7 %.  Depending on whose figures you’d care to believe, it could actually be higher today than in April.  Bottom line: there are millions who have far more important things to be concerned with than Black Friday deals.
  3. People are just tired of the rat race that Black Friday has turned into.  The ‘magic’ of Black Fridays perceived deals has been stolen by the ‘magic’ of the internet, of Cyber Monday and the general feeling of ‘I really don’t want to play this game any longer’.  Why should I stand in line for hours with hateful, pushy people to save $5 when I can sit in my boxer shorts at my computer and never leave the warmth and comfort of my own home?

According to the Wall Street Journal, online sales rose 30 % on Cyber Monday, down from last year’s 33 %, but still impressive when stacked against the physical in-store sales numbers.  Like the brick-and-mortar store fronts that have grown so dependent on the day, Black Friday will never go completely away.  There’s only so much the world of the internet can realistically replace.  But Black Friday as we know it may become more of a semi-sweet distraction from the news of the day rather than a profit-taking venture.

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