Posts Tagged ‘mayhem’
November 27th, 2015 at 2:23 pm
Wising Up to the ‘Black Friday Con’
Posted by Print

Black Friday is upon us, and — in keeping with tradition — so are the attendant brawls, melees, assaults, thefts and general mayhem.

Nevertheless, Black Friday appears a bit more sedate this year overall. Reuters reports:

Bargain hunters found relatively little competition compared with previous years. Some had already shopped Thursday evening, reflecting a new normal of U.S. holiday shopping, where stores open up with deals on Thanksgiving itself, rather than waiting until Black Friday.

Retailers “have taken the sense of urgency out for consumers by spreading their promotions throughout the year and what we are seeing is a result of that,” said Jeff Simpson, director of the retail practice at Deloitte. Traffic in stores was light on Friday, while Thursday missed his expectations, he said.

As much as 20 percent of holiday shopping is expected to be done over the Thanksgiving weekend this year, analysts said. But the four days are not considered a strong indicator for the entire season. A slow start last year led to deeper promotions and a shopping rush in the final ten days of December.

Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc , told Reuters he was not surprised that a store would see thinner crowds on Friday after it kicked off Black Friday deals on Thursday night.

Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analysts were more blunt, calling Thursday a “bust”. “Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores,” he wrote in a note.

My Manhattan Institute colleague Nicole Gelinas anticipated this turn in her New York Post column earlier this week. The crux: consumers are a lot smarter about bargain-hunting than retailers think. She writes:

Last year, Thanksgiving weekend sales dropped by double digits.

It’s important to remember here: This is good news. People aren’t as stupid as retailers think they are. They saw the artificially created stampedes for a piece of plastic that their kids will have broken or forgotten about in a few weeks anyway — and they said no.

Plus, retailers’ fake-emergency marketing has worked against them. People can see that stuff is already on sale — and that it will be on sale next week, the week after and, of course, after Christmas. There is no rush.

People are also smarter than their own government. For the past seven years, Washington has kept interest rates at record lows in the hopes that people would go out and borrow and spend again. They haven’t.

People knew, in 2007 and 2008, that they had taken on way too much debt.

Since then, they’ve been trying to fix that — and in doing so, have been helping us strengthen our economy. Americans’ household debt peaked in 2007, at about $16.2 trillion in today’s dollars. Today, it’s barely above $14 trillion.

Black Friday is unlikely to go away altogether — it’s hard to remember now, but 15 years ago, most retailers’ idea of opening early the day after Thanksgiving meant 7:00 a.m. — but a little more sanity and fewer doorbuster donnybrooks would be a welcome turn of events.