BlackFriday_emptystoreThe headlines this morning are rife with news of an apparent downtrend in shopper traffic and sales over the Black Friday shopping weekend.

But, before throwing in the towel on what will (still!) likely be a strong — albeit different from last year — holiday shopping season, here’s some things to keep in mind regarding the changing nature of the Black Friday shopping weekend.

Also, and importantly, the predictive power of the type of surveys that are driving today’s headlines is not an exact science (to say the least) as it relates to the success or failure of the actual holiday shopping season.

More important than the estimated traffic trends over the weekend are the apparent sales trends.

As we noted in early October (see: Forecast Factor First Look, The 2014 Holiday Shopping Outlook), demand this year will likely trend towards non-seasonal gift giving / consumer electronics and away from seasonal apparel and accessories.

This is due largely to our expectation that the core holiday shopping season will likely trend milder than last year — that forecast is looking increasingly prescient.

Additionally, the negative drag on apparel demand during the holiday shopping season has been accentuated by the pull-forward effect of the mid-November polar plunge. (see: White Gold! Winter Storm to Bring an Early Start to Holiday)

Here are some anecdotal reports from a NY Times article this morning regarding demand for apparel versus consumer electronics:

The sales period was a “lost weekend” in particular for apparel, said Craig Johnson, president of the consultancy Customer Growth Partners. Shoppers increasingly captivated by technology like smartphones and smart TVs were spending less on jeans and jackets, he said.
Consumers appeared to shun apparel “unless it was at fire-sale prices, which it often was,” Mr. Johnson said.
A brighter spot over the weekend appeared to be consumer electronics. The Consumer Electronics Association said about 45 percent of shoppers bought electronics, more than in any of the last three years.

Going forward the trends for the next 10-days or so support our expectation from early October that this year will see stronger demand for non-seasonal gift giving (consumer electronics, etc) with sales of winter seasonal merchandise lagging last year’s very strong demand environment.

You can get a copy of our latest holiday outlook by clicking on the banner below.


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