If you missed our forecast for Black Friday, read here first. We said it would be, in essence, a freak show for the 47% and a blood bath for retailers. Once again, we were right.
No Surprise: Consumer Behavior
Thuggery and savagery were on full display. Fists, guns, cars all used as weapons of choice. Replace the big crate in the YouTube video of consumers rioting over cellphones...with, say, a helicopter...and you can pretend you are watching a reenactment of the fall of Saigon.
No Surprise: NRF “Data”
The folks at Not Really Factual (aka, the National Retail Federation) were quick to publish a press release saying Black Friday sales were up by double digits over last year. As is their custom, the NRF built this finding on a survey of a statistically insignificant and unrepresentative number of CONSUMERS.
The NRF represents the RETAILERS, yet it SURVEYS CONSUMERS.
Basically, “here is a bullsh&t number.” But, this year’s bullsh&t number, even in double digits, is lower than last year’s. So even a lie can’t hide a trend.
No Surprise: Real Data
ShopperTrak, which counts real foot traffic, said visits to stores on Black Friday rose 3.5% from last year. That is down from 2011’s increase of 4.7%.
It also estimated that in-store sales fell 1.8% on Friday. Adding the early Thanksgiving openings, ShopperTrak thinks the two days netted out with less than a 1% gain in sales over 2011.
Who would know foot traffic better? How about mall operator Taubman, which found in a sampling of 10 malls that sales growth was unchanged/up to mid-single digits on Friday, and unchanged/up to low single digit on Saturday.
IBM, meanwhile, tracked retailer transactions. (How novel. Perhaps the NRF would be interested in purchasing said IBM data.) Although it found that online sales were way up, check this out, if you will:
- Average order value on Black Friday declined 4.7% from last year
- The average number of items per order dropped 12%
Further, if you want to know where many of the 47% went shopping this past weekend, here is telling data re:eBay…
“E-commerce software firm ChannelAdvisor said clients' same-store sales on eBay's online marketplace rose 27% on Thanksgiving and 31% on Black Friday, compared with a year earlier. Last year's growth was about 15%...”
No Surprise: Faux Media
The business, retail, marketing and tech trade publications are awash in the only good data from this past weekend – the enormity of online sales. How this caught anyone by surprise is, well, a surprise.
None of these guys will dare to write another article about what’s going on at brick & mortar for the rest of the year.
Two “Target” Surprises
There are a couple of surprises, though, and both involve Target, the retailer we cited in our original Crack Friday post as the “big tell” for holiday insight.
Firstly, Target has not released any press about how well things went this past weekend. Which means things must not have gone that well.
Secondly, a Target store in New Jersey was robbed of its Thanksgiving/Black Friday cash haul late Friday night. Two masked men tied up three employees in the back room, while others were replenishing the shelves for this week.