November Sales Disappoint; What Happened to Black Friday’s 13%?

“Sales at stores open at least a year declined in November at major American store chains, including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Target, sending a shiver through the retail world Thursday.

The reporting period included Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the official kickoff of the critical holiday shopping season. Early reports regarding those days had been mixed, and the individual retailers’ dim results suggest a big challenge in the coming weeks for retailers.”



Thomson Reuters tracks major retailers actual sales results — not surveys — and the most recent data was disappointing. Sales at stores open at least a year gained 1.6% increase in November. This is far below the nonsensical 13% number the National Retail Federation (NRF) trumpets to gullible journalists. It was even below the 3.3% increase consensus of analysts.

The NYT rounds up some of the sales figures, and they are not pretty:

Kohl’s sales -5.6% (vs expectations of +1.9%)

Target -1% (vs +2.1%)

Nordstrom -1.1% (vs +4.3%)

Macy’s -0.7% (vs + 1.5%)

There were a few winners:

Costco +6%

Limited  +5%

Gap +3%

We won’t get the final holiday sales figures til January, but you can be pretty comfortable with the premise that there will not be an increase of 13% of retail sales this holiday season.

The lesson here is pretty stark. Be very aware of what you accept as a data source. Understand the differences between hard numbers — i.e., sales receipts — and squishy emotional guesses produced by surveying consumers.

The bottom line:  The NRF is an industry shill group that produces nonsensical spin that misleads investors, fools the public, and bamboozles incompetent journalists. Any writer who uncritically reprints their nonsense deserves to be fired; any media outlets that publishes their junk should be put quarantined and put on your DO NOT READ list.





Black Friday Skepticism (Finally!) Goes Mainstream (November 23rd, 2012)

Black Friday’s Media Hall of Shame (November 28, 2012)


Sales at Nation’s Retailers Fell Short of Expectations in November
NYT, November 29, 2012

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