Holiday Shopping: Here Comes the Silly Season!

Forget August. The real silly season is upon us.

As evidence I present the forecast of a 13 percent increase in holiday sales made by Forrester Research, as cited in the New York Times this morning. Color me skeptical.

As we noted about this time last year, these sales projections are as much of an annual holiday ritual as Thanksgiving and overeating. Every year, numerous trade groups, research firms and other assorted media shills release their holiday sales forecasts. The data set of failures is so large that even if anyone gets it right, it should be chalked to random chance. That is what happens when you are so wrong for so long and don’t bother to think about why you are wrong.

I am glad that Forrester has the ability to forecast a 13 percent jump in this year’s holiday shopping. To reach that conclusion, it only needed to figure out:

• How much income people will earn between now and the holidays, minus their actual expenses, plus their availability of credit.

• The psychology of how much Americans will actually be spending money on gifts.

• The weather.

• Any other random events — ISIS, Ebola, Taylor Swift — that may interfere with holiday cheer.

• Knowing how much savings Americans have accumulated during the year.

I am only kidding about that last one, because these are Americans we are talking about, and their savings rate could substitute as a slide at a water park.

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