William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






BLACK FRIDAY – AT 9:02 A.M. ET:  I' probably the most commonly used phrase of the last week.  It is the shopping day, the pinnacle of free enterprise, the engine of the economy, and, next to the creation of the Universe, there is nothing like it. 

Or is there? 

A litle sanity please.  Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, really isn't what it's cracked up to be.  From the Washington Post:

In fact, sales over Thanksgiving weekend tell us virtually nothing about retail sales for the full holiday season—let alone anything meaningful about the economy as a whole.


...strong sales results around Black Friday actually predict slightly weaker holiday sales overall. (Shhh. Don’t tell the people who lined up at Target last night that they aren’t actually bellweathers for the U.S. economy).


Retailers know that a typical family spends whatever it will spend on holiday gift-giving, and that whether that spending comes on Nov. 23 or Dec. 23 doesn’t make that much difference in the aggregate. But retailers aren’t a monolith; they are all chasing market share from the others. And the minute one retailer discovers that opening at midnight on Thanksgiving will attract a mob of people, cash in hand, others are reluctant to cede those sales to the guy down the block. Thus, an opening-time arms race that resulted in this year’s prevalence of stores opening at 8:00p.m. on Thanksgiving.

COMMENT:  So maybe we should calm down.  We'll know sometime in January how strong retail sales were, and that, of course, is only part of the economic story.

If sales are strong, MSNBC will tell us it's all because of Obama.

If sales are weak, MSNBC will tell us it's racism.

November 24,  2012