Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Treat Black Friday reports cautiously

December 2, 2008

Check out some cautionary comments about how much weight to put on Black Friday sales reports.
 
The comments come from the Goldman Sachs U.S. economic research group and repeat caution the firm has given in the past about the much-hyped kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
 
1. “Shoppers are not sales.” Essentially, Goldman Sachs notes that just because people are in stores, it doesn’t mean they are buying something.
 
“Over the years, Black Friday has become a cultural event; people go not just to shop but to be a part of the broader experience, which could cause an increase in traffic that bears little relation to consumer spending,” the Goldman team wrote. 

2. “Sales are not profits.” Retailers were offering deep discounts to get consumers into stores on Black Friday, discounts that could hurt profits.
 
3. “One day is not the holiday season.” The team notes that the correlation between data on Black Friday and the entire holiday season has been historically poor.
 
Thanksgiving also came late this year, so there are fewer shopping days between then and Christmas.
 
“Simply put, with less shopping days each one has to be better for the overall holiday shopping season to be strong,” the Goldman Sachs team wrote.
 
Want to keep track of the holiday season as it unfolds for retailers? Check out the Reuters Holiday Shopping page here.
 
Also in the basket:
 
Bargain hunters fail to save retail sales
 
Sears Holdings posts loss, plans store closures
 
Staples posts higher than expected profit
 
Wal-Mart assailed on death (WSJ)

(Reuters photo)

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