Choose Your Defective Survey, Gallup Edition

Black Friday weekend spending substantially below 2011

Three-Day Trend in U.S. Adults' Average Self-Reported Spending "Yesterday"

Source: Gallup


This morning, I noted the errors that merely repeating surveys from PR firms combined with not understanding the cognitive errors inherent in these sorts of exercises. (There is a separate issue of relying on PR industry flacks and spokesgroups who have specific agendas, but I will save that for another day).

As an example of the problem of using self-reported surveys versus actual sales data, another issue arises: Which survey do you use? Which one do you believe?

For example, Gallup did a survey that found the opposite of what NRF found — that spending actually fell — and significantly:

Daily Spending Shows Weak Black Friday Spending

Even as the nation’s retailers heavily promoted early sales on Thanksgiving Day, consumers’ self-reported spending averaged $54 over the three days ending on Thanksgiving this year, compared with $67 in 2011. Black Friday weekend also showed a substantial spending decline in 2012, to $84 from $103 a year ago . . .

Self-reported U.S. consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $67 per day in the week ending Nov. 25, including Black Friday weekend. This is down from $83 a year ago and the $79 comparable for 2010, and essentially matches the 2009 weekly comparable of $69.


My advice is to investors: Don’t cherry pick the survey that confirms your preconceived notions. Instead, look to actual sales data. If you do not want to wait for Commerce or BEA to release their numbers, then use Visa/Master Card –they may be skewed online (cant pay cash) and perhaps demographically, but at least their imprecision is modest. As we saw this morning, the self-reporting surveys results tend to be poor.

Hard retail receipts trump squishy surveys every time.


Thanksgiving Week Spending in U.S. Down From a Year Ago
Dennis Jacobe
Gallup November 27, 2012

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:

Posted Under