Missus Big Picture and I are watching CNBC early on the 23rd. Some woman from a large mall is discussing how the naysayers are wrong, and that traffic and sales are up 1% — within their forecasted range of 1-3% gains for 2008, she says, and adds that “its not going to be such a bad season.”
And I actually blurt out loud “This lying @#*& is totally full of shit.” As you would imagine, that is not the sort of language I typically employ around the house.
Anyway, this morning I see this Bloomberg headline: Visits to U.S. Retailers Fell 24% on Weekend Before Christmas.
Now granted, we had some snow and bad weather. Not across the entire USA, but certainly big chunks of the northern portions. But in most years, people get to the stores anyway they can — ski, snowmobile, dog sled — to do their holiday gift shopping.
Not this year!
“U.S. consumers were working with smaller budgets for holiday gifts this year because of rising unemployment and declining home values. Macy’s Inc. and Saks Inc. offered discounts of as much as 70 percent to lure shoppers seeking bargains, and retailers’ profit margins may suffer as a result.
“We had that deep drop-off in consumer spending, which propelled the retailers to go into these very competitive pricing wars,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with Port Washington, New York-based NPD Group Inc.
“It has a lot to do with the fact that you can get almost anything, anywhere, at any price.” Customers have come to expect discounts, he said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
Traffic decreased 6.5 percent for the week through Dec. 20 from a year earlier, ShopperTrak said. The pre-Christmas weekend drop was the biggest since at least 2003. The company uses a sampling of more than 50,000 stores in shopping centers and malls to measure foot traffic, or count the number of customers that enter the locations.”
If retailers only see a 3-5% drop in November, and a 2-4% drop in December, they should consider themselves fortunate . . .
Visits to U.S. Retailers Fell 24% on Weekend Before Christmas
Allison Abell Schwartz
Bloomberg, Dec. 25 2008
Early Reports Confirm Weak Holiday Shopping
NYT, December 24, 2008