Let’s face it this holiday season is a pivotal one for all of us from a macro point of view. While many retailers will be focused on their individual bottom lines it will be important to look at how this whole ‘first weekend’ of the holiday shopping season plays out from start to finish with the latest entry, Cyber Monday, happening as you read this.
First the good news. Online sales for Black Friday were up 11% over last year according to comScore and the rest of November was an improvement over the prior year. Let’s remember, though, that last year’s holiday season was on the heels of “Bailout 1” and waiting for a new president to be inaugurated. In other words, last year sucked so any improvement over those numbers needs to be tempered.
Overall, meaning the performance of the Black Friday weekend in total, was less heartening in that it appears that people are intent on spending less and there was virtually no increase in spending overall from last year. Yahoo News reports
Consumers spent significantly less per person at the start of the holiday season this weekend, dimming hopes for a retail comeback that would help propel the economy early in 2010.
Consumers said they will have spent nearly 8 percent less on average, or about $343 per person, over the weekend that includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday and runs through Sunday, according to the NRF (National Federation of Retailers).
Traffic to stores and websites rose to 195 million people from 172 million in 2008, but shoppers were focused on buying low-priced items, like $10 toys and $9 books, the NRF said.
Total spending for the holiday weekend rose to an estimated $41.2 billion, up 0.5 percent from a year earlier, NRF said.
Since I am not a prognosticator I am not going to offer some thoughts on where this will all go. What I will say is that this will not be the time for irrational exuberance over numbers that look nice in a silo. This season is about online and offline together and if there is little or no increase (or even a decrease) in spending then we are looking at some interesting times ahead.