WaPo: Beware Bad Shopmas data!


My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is out. This morning, we look at the retail theater that is Black Friday:  Beware of bad Shopmas data!

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

“The news media aren’t any better. They breathlessly cover shopping as if it were an Olympic event. The big-box retailers play right into the coverage. Each year, we are regaled with stock footage of the 6 a.m. crush, a near-riot battle for the heavily discounted electronics doodad of which only a few are for sale. It is ugly and crass. I see a scene from “The Hunger Games” rather than a modern industrialized nation gratefully celebrating the bounty provided us.

Footage of people camped out at Best Buy or elsewhere is not remotely a celebration. Rather, it’s a reminder of just how economically distressed a large percentage of our populace is. It’s a Barbie, for crying out loud — do you really need to LEAVE YOUR FAMILY FOR THREE DAYS TO camp out for that?”

We will start to see some of the “data points” Monday, then get the actual information a few weeks later.  Don’t bet on accuracy in the initial run of numbers.


Retail theater: Beware of bad Shopmas data!
Barry Ritholtz
Washington Post, December 1 2013  

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