Today, the WSJ ran this patently incorrect headline (which many TV stations dutifully (mis)reported:
Preliminary sales data showed shoppers spent $10.66 billion on Black Friday. That’s 0.5% more than last year. The figures were compiled by ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago research firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 stores
That’s simply wrong. We don’t have a clue yet as to how Black Friday sales were. Not even a remotely wild guess.
What the WSJ should have written were words to the effect of:
“An analysis of mall foot traffic suggests that Black Friday saw a slight increase in shoppers. Since we did not analyze actual sales, or even credit card transaction, we actually have no idea how sales did. ShopperTrak’s guessed that sales might have been up as much as a half a percentage, but that’s just spitballing it.
Every year, various groups — NPD, Retail Federation, Shopper Track, and others — release this weak ass data that is almost never correct. And each year, the press laps it up like manna from heaven.
You call this a business model, printing bullshit press releases from trade associations and the like?
How’s that working out for ya?
BLACK FRIDAY RETAIL SALES INCREASE 0.5 PERCENT AS COMPARED TO 2008
November 29, 2008
Black Friday Spending Rose Slightly
WSJ, NOVEMBER 28, 2009, 4:39 P.M. ET