Black Friday sales numbers look weak

There are always a lot of early reports on Christmas shopping that contradict each other, so let’s see what they say next week.

Maybe the early shoppers are just holding out for better deals.

Stay tuned

Holiday shopping via Shutterstock

There were more shoppers in the nation’s malls and big-box stores on Black Friday than there were last year, according to a report issued Saturday. But retailers still aren’t sure that starting the holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving night proved successful.

ShopperTrak, which measures and analyzes foot traffic at more than 50,000 retail locations nationwide, says Black Friday store visits climbed 3.5% from last year to more than 307.67 million.

But Black Friday retail sales fell 1.8% to $11.2 billion, the firm said.

Having said that, Black Friday online sales topped $1 billion for the first time ever.  From Reuters:

Online sales jumped at least 22 percent on Black Friday – from sales of $816 million on the same day last year, according to comScore data.

E-commerce accounts for less than 10 percent of consumer spending in the United States. However, it is growing much faster than bricks-and-mortar retail as shoppers are lured by low prices, convenience, faster shipping and wide selection.

NOTE FROM JOHN: It’s hard to image that e-commerce is only ten percent of consumer spending.  Then again, it depends how you count it.  I don’t buy my groceries online.  But most everything else, I do.  It’s just easier, living in a city without a car, to shop online.  Also, it’s far cheaper, I find, buying things on Amazon than anywhere else.  Then again, these are online “retail” sales they’re talking about, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t include food.

I’d have to do the math, but I’d be hard-pressed to show that I spend more offline than I do online.  How about you?


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • Guest

    Exactly people don’t have money to spend.

  • condew

    Many retailers came up with the obscene idea that Black Friday should start on Thursday night this year. I wonder what the numbers look like if you include Thanksgiving evening sales.

  • emjayay

    Yeah, me too. The warehouse workers are exploited as badly as Walmart and Home Depot and other type places. Maybe worse. If Obama was an actual Democrat he would be addressing modern worker issues in some sort of creative ways adapted to the hellhole that lower level jobs have become. It wouldn’t be that hard.

  • A reader in Colorado

    That, or neoliberal parties and politicians were playing progressives as fools, and now laugh at them for their blind, no deal asked for or agreed to support.

    Progressives are such f’ing retards (Rahm Emmaneul’s words).

    LOL. rubes. suckers.

    Even the Indians got beads and trinkets. Progressives voted for and got blue dog right wing know nothings in exchange for NOTHING. Fools.

  • A reader in Colorado

    The poverty catastrophe was swept under the carpet for the election. That was the “concern”. Happy Days are Here Again. Obama is Hoover.

  • Buford

    I’ll play optimist and presume that this, along with the recent ‘landslide’ election support for progressive politics, is simply another sign that Americans are not as stupid as we were all starting to think we were.

  • nicho

    WalMart shoppers fight over phones.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5qRs2dBoK0

    Sick, sick, sick.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Then there is the online gimmick for which E-Bay and Amazon are famous: say, buy a great used book for $3-$4 and then pay a shipping/handling of of $6 or more and your cheap item can cost twice what you expected.

    The mortgage collapse has caused rent rates to double and triple in our area. Even Sec. 8 grants for the elderly poor and working poor are as rare as hen’s teeth. Millions have lost good jobs and are homeless or living in their cars, having spent all their savings and sold all their goods. Take a look at the Frontline special: ‘Poor kids.’ It’s tough out here and I see absolutely no leadership or concern whatsoever from the Obama crew.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    The Hubris of Wally World is a sort of nationalism in itself. I long for the day when it goes down.

  • A reader in Colorado

    Perhaps it’s because people don’t have the money to buy stuff.

    ;)

  • mf_roe

    The pie is no longer expanding, the destruction of the middle class has seen to that. The game is now grabbing a bigger slice of a shrinking market–getting there first is an obvious way to grab business from competitors who close for holidays. But the game is coming to an end, the Golden Goose has been slaughtered and when the left-overs are gone famine will come to the likes of Wally World.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    We do sometimes do some ‘Black Friday’ shopping, but only online. The thing I’ve noticed is that the retailers all seem to be offering their 2nd and 3rd their products, rather than the popular stuff. (Who the heck wants a major appliance or TV from Coby, TCL, or Haier, all of which have pretty crappy product quality ratings?) Plus, I don’t think I’ve seen a “Must Have” item hit the market for the holiday season. Last year, it was the Kindle Fire. This year? The Windows 8 tablet is pretty much a bust (as is the OS). I guess the iPad Mini is selling reasonably well, but not that great. No new TV technology, no new super-gaming console. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a “This year’s Cabbage Patch Kid.”

    Of course another factor is the people with the most money in America these days, the most disposable income, are no longer the working poor or middle class. It’s the rich. And they don’t spend all that much, not in terms of volume.

    In short, this is what an ongoing Demand Depression looks like. Wages remain stagnant or declining. Unemployment remains high. Housing prices have locked millions into mortgage-underwater homes. Energy and medical costs continue to outpace core inflation.

  • Indigo

    No problem. The Annual Shopping Festival is only just beginning, from Black Friday until the January White Sales gives everyone plenty of time to find that perfect nicknack. Many people find occasion for a religious celebration, from Diwali to Rohatsu to Hanukkha to Christmas to Kwanzaa and Festivus, there’s plenty of shopping time for everyone and it’ll be over just in time for the Super Bowl! God bless America and all its wonderful festivals!

  • draftmama

    Living in Helena MT where our retail choices are pretty much limited to box stores, and since we raise almost all our own food, apart from a monthly trip to Costco for basics which is a mile from our property, I buy almost everything online. Amazon is so freaking easy. I do feel bad for their warehouse workers though

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