NRF Gets Lucky

Last month, we looked at the annual holiday sales forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF). They predicted that retail sales for the 2019 holiday season would rise “between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent” over the prior year. They later claimed that Retail spending was up 16% during the holiday weekend, and on November 29, Black Friday, they were up 14%.

The NRF did better than usual with their main forecast:  The good news is the NRF’s survey’s forecast turned out to be in line: Census reported a sales increase over the holidays of over 4%. The bad news is, we cannot tell if it was anything other than dumb luck. Given their suspect methodology and their historical track record – this was the first time in 15 years that I have been tracking the NRF that they got it right. I cannot determine if it was  anything more than a random outcome.

Still, I have been giving them grief for decades, so for this survey forecast, I say to the NRF: Kudos!

In terms of Black Friday and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the NRF was not as lucky: Their surveys claimed Retail sales were up 16% over the long holiday weekend, and up 14% on November 29, Black Friday. There are no other data sets that confirm this. They did get the broad season correct, but their Black Friday/Thanksgiving weekend numbers looks to be an outlier among other data points.

The more interesting data point was online sales  . . . More on this next week . . .


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