Record crowds over weekend, but spending declined

Shoppers, on average, are expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year
Associated Press
Dec 1, 2013

Did stores shoot themselves in the foot?

Target, Macy's and other retailers offered holiday discounts in early November and opened stores on Thanksgiving Day. It was an effort to attract shoppers before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season.

Those tactics drew bigger crowds, but failed to motivate Americans to spend.

A record 141 million people were expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend that ended Sunday, up from last year's 137 million, according to the results of a survey of nearly 4,500 shoppers conducted for The National Retail Federation.

But total spending is expected to fall for the first time ever since the trade group began tracking it in 2006, according to the survey that was released on Sunday. Over the four days, spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion.

Shoppers, on average, are expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year. That would be the first decline since the 2009 holiday shopping season when the economy was just coming out of the recession.

The survey underscores the challenges stores have faced since the recession began in late 2007. Retailers had to offer deep discounts to get people to shop during the downturn, but Americans still expect those "70 percent off" signs now during the uneven economic recovery.

Stores may have only exacerbated that expectation this year. By offering bargains earlier in the season, it seems they've created a vicious cycle in which they'll need to constantly offer bigger sales to get people to spend. That's because shoppers who took advantage of "holiday" deals before Thanksgiving may have deal fatigue and are cautious about buying anything else unless it's heavily discounted.

"The economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days," said Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors. "We are going to see an increase in markdowns."

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of The National Retail Federation, said that the survey results only represent one extended weekend in what is typically the biggest shopping period of the year. The combined months of November and December can account for up to 40 percent of retailers' revenue.

Overall, Shay said the trade group still expects sales for the combined two months to increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion. That's higher than the 3.5 percent pace in the previous year.

But to achieve that growth, retailers will likely have to offer big sales events. In a stronger economy, people who shopped early would continue to do so throughout the season. But analysts say that's not likely to be the case in this still tough economic climate.

"It's pretty clear that in the current environment, customers expect promotions," Shay said. "Absent promotions, they're not really spending."

Take Tuesday Trasvina, 37, who said she's been bombarded with holiday discounts since early November. Trasvina, a marketing coordinator, plans to spend $500 on holiday gifts, about a quarter of what she spent last year.

"They've been stretching out this Black Friday thing so long," said Trasvina, who was shopping with her husband on Friday at a Target store in Portland, Ore. "I just think the over-commercialization of the holiday has gotten to us."

At least a dozen major retailers — most of them for the first time — opened on Thanksgiving instead of on Black Friday, which is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and other retailers said on Friday that Thanksgiving crowds were strong.

But the early start appeared to pull sales forward. Black Friday sales fell 13.2 percent from the previous year to $9.74 billion, according to Chicago-based technology firm ShopperTrak. But combined spending over Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose 2.3 percent to $12.3 billion compared with a year ago.

A Kmart store in New York City that opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and stayed open for 41 hour straight was packed on the holiday. Clothing was marked down 30 percent to 50 percent.

Adriana Tavaraz, 51, headed there at about 4 p.m. and spent $105 on ornaments, Santa hats and other holiday decor. She saved about 50 percent.

But it's not likely Tavaraz will be back in stores too many more times this season. Money is tight this year because of rising costs for food and rent, and Tavaraz already spent much of her $200 holiday budget.

"Nowadays, you have to think about what you spend," she said. "You have to think about tomorrow."

Comments

deertracker

You need a big dose of reality and you need to recognize where you live cupcake. America! What have you done to reverse them, huh?

toredown11

As I said, we're going to look at facts, and first we'll look at private sector jobs (someone above stated that all of Obama's job growth has been in public sector jobs). We'll start with the Bush years then move on to the Obama years. Here are the PRIVATE SECTOR job growth numbers:
2001...-773,000
2002...-531,000
2003...-336,000
2004...+1,111,000
2005...+1,211,000
2006...+1,109,000
2007...+688,000
2008...-861,000
2009...-3,876,000
2010...+344,000
2011...+1,209,000
2012...+1,146,000
2013...+1,534,000

It seems that 4 of the 8 years Bush was President we lost private sector jobs, whereas we’ve gained jobs under Obama in 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013. And I can already hear Republicans, “But look at all the jobs we lost in 2009 under Obama!” If that is your argument, you’re already admitting that he’s been a success.

Anyone capable of applying any kind of logic knows that Obama inherited a rapidly sinking economy. The vast majority of the jobs he lost happened during his first 3 months in office — when his policies hadn’t had any time to take effect. In fact, we saw job losses cut in half 2 months after President Obama signed his 2009 stimulus bill.

It should also be noted that under G.W. Bush, PUBLIC SECTOR jobs INCREASED by 1,748,000. Under Obama, public sector jobs have DECREASED 752,000 since he took office.

For those of you accusing Democrats of blaming everything on Bush, your logic just doesn't hold up. Do you blame Brian Hoyer or Jason Campbell for the 26 interceptions that Brandon Weeden threw in 2012? Of course not. Weeden is the one that threw those interceptions when he was quarterback, just as Bush led us into the Great Repression when he was "quarterback". Facts are facts. And to be honest with you, I haven't heard any of my liberal friends blame Bush for the slow recovery; they blame the Republican obstructionism that has gone on during both Obama administrations.

As for Obamacare, yes the rollout was a mess. Bush's Medicare Part D rollout had it's fair share of problems, too. We'll have to wait to see what the final outcome is. As it looks now, states that set up their own exchanges are doing great and those that did their best to sabotage Obamacare and didn't set up exchanges aren't fairing as well (once again, Republican obstructionism to make a point at the cost of their constituents - just look at Kentucky's numbers if you don't believe me). As for me, our family is going to be saving $200/month purchasing our insurance through the healthcare.gov website (2 adults, 2 children) and we have better coverage. And our current insurance (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) was partially employer paid.

Contango

Re: "we’ve gained jobs under Obama in 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013."

Many of them poorer quality low-paying, low-skilled part-time "McJobs."

All "jobs" are not created equal.

BTW: Fed Chair Bernanke said in 2012 that they were responsible for the creation of 2 million jobs.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

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Re: "saving $200/month purchasing our insurance through the healthcare.gov website"

Wait until the premiums start resetting next yr.

The actuaries based the initial premiums on many healthy young adults buying health ins. and offsetting the sicker and older insureds.

If they don't buy it, premiums are gonna rise proportionally.

deertracker

DOOM AND GLOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Contango

FACT: The young healthy insureds are baked into the intitial premium calculations.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/ea...

Have another glass of kool-aid Sport.

coasterfan

Fact: Black Friday spending down a few percent this year.
Fact: Online spending on Cyber Monday UP more than 9% this year.
Fact: Due to the greatly increased volume of sales, FedEx had a record day today, shipping more than 20% more than they did last year on same date.

Summary: many people who shopped at brick and mortar stores last year chose to save time and gasoline and shop online this year. Conservative gloom and doom is, as usual, a bunch of hooey.

I'm one of those people who shop online. To me, having to pay a little extra to have the item shipped to me is a good trade-off for not having to go out in the cold or wait in lines. Also, there is zero chance of getting injured in a shopping brawl while at my PC at home. Also, a zero chance of running into people like Contango. Ya can't put a price tag on that...

The Big Dog's back

You got that right coaster. Imagine meeting Scrooge himself.

Contango

Re: "Summary: many people who shopped at brick and mortar stores last year chose to save time and gasoline and shop online this year."

And you know that is a one-to-one ratio how?

BTW: Thanksgiving sales brought some Black Fri. sales forward.

I'd prefer to wait until Jan. and get as much data as possible regarding the Christmas shopping season which is one wk. shorter than last.

---------------------

Re: "I'm one of those people who shop online,"

So you don't support local employment and add to local sales tax revenue, but instead add to the coffers of those evil, non-union, out-of-state corps.?

I shop online too, but only for those items that I can't find locally.

It's nice to get out and meet working people and not hide behind a computer in a narcissistic, centrally planned dystopia. You should try it.

coasterfan

UPDATE: I just heard an updated report on the news. Total online spending was up 20% on Cyber Monday as compared to last year, not 9% as I mentioned yesterday. A full $2 billion in sales for that one day.

I'm sure Contango will find a way to label a one-day total of $2 billion in sales as bad news for America. There have always been naysayers, folks. That doesn't mean we have to listen to them, and certainly not when all the available evidence tells a completely different story than they tell.

Conservatives' answer to any statistics and evidence that proves them wrong are two-fold: #1 the statistics are wrong, and #2 it's a conspiracy, that's why the statistics are 'cooked'. Of course, that was their story with the polls just prior to the 2012 election. The polls, of course, were correct, and Fox (of course) ran no "oops we were wrong" retractions.

Contango

Re: "A full $2 billion in sales for that one day."

1. How will that translate into the local tax revenue and employment picture?

2. We are a nation of spenders, not savers or investors. Hence, we must print and borrow in order to spend. This does not bode well for the U.S.' ongoing standard of living.

3. The poor buy assets that depreciate, the rich buy those that appreciate. (See: "Rich Dad, Poor Dad")

4. Again: I'd prefer to wait until Jan. and get as much data as possible regarding the Christmas shopping season which is one wk. shorter than last.

coasterfan

How interesting that you suddenly prescribe a "wait and see" approach. Am wondering why you (and other conservatives) aren't willing to do the same with Obamacare? Clearly, THAT is a case in which we need a year or two of observation before anyone can judge it.

You thought that a one-day "snapshot" of the economy was important a day ago, when the Black Friday news appeared to be BAD. Now, a day later, when it's obvious that the Cyber Monday news was much better, suddenly you're telling us that a one-day "snapshot" is unimportant and misleading. Rolls eyes...

Classic conservative dodge. When they see bad news, they shine the light on it instantly. When the news is good, they don't acknowledge the obvious good news, and instead advise us to wait and see the big picture.

Personally, I cannot wait until the last of the grumpy, old conservatives die out. They are what millionaires need, but they aren't what the other 99.5% of Americans need. You're irrelevant - didn't you get the memo? Nobody wants another 2008, so please take your disastrous economic philosophies and go away.

Contango

Re: "You thought that a one-day "snapshot" of the economy was important a day ago, when the Black Friday news appeared to be BAD."

We keep goin' over the same territory, please read:

Again: Thanksgiving sales brought some Black Fri. sales forward.

AND

Christmas shopping season is one wk. shorter than last.

Contango

Re: "Nobody wants another 2008,"

Agreed. Electing an untested, inexperienced, incompetent POTUS like Mr. Obama was a huge mistake.

grumpy

I shopped local mom & pop stores for most what I bought. Amazon for the rest. Prefer to keep the money local as much as made sense to me, that was for people I would hand the gifts to. Amazon delivered to out of state gift sending... for free. I Ilike to support local shops and companies.

grumpy

RE: "As I said, we're going to look at facts, and first we'll look at private sector jobs (someone above stated that all of Obama's job growth has been in public sector jobs). We'll start with the Bush years then move on to the Obama years. Here are the PRIVATE SECTOR job growth numbers:
2001...-773,000
2002...-531,000
2003...-336,000
2004...+1,111,000
2005...+1,211,000
2006...+1,109,000
2007...+688,000
2008...-861,000
2009...-3,876,000
2010...+344,000
2011...+1,209,000
2012...+1,146,000
2013...+1,534,000"

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Most jobs in the private sector have been low paying jobs.

Don't like the rightwing websie Huffington Post that Contango used? How about the even further right wing site New York Times?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/3...

While a majority of jobs lost during the downturn were in the middle range of wages, a majority of those added during the recovery have been low paying, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.
Related

Who Wears the Pants in This Economy? (September 2, 2012)

The disappearance of midwage, midskill jobs is part of a longer-term trend that some refer to as a hollowing out of the work force, though it has probably been accelerated by government layoffs.

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Obama the jobs President... pi$$ poor jobs, but jobs none the less... or more accurately much less/lower paying part-time jobs.

kURTje

Who was it that got an individual's (private sector) vacation taxed as a luxury? 48%?

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