Black Friday has officially come to a close and numbers are already rolling in from various retail sources that show sales up as much as 7.2%. Retailers were correct in their assumption that many consumers would scale back holiday purchases, with many stores trending below last year's sales numbers. Despite the decline, many retailers did exceed their lowered expectations, several coming within a few hundred dollars of last year's sales.
Broken down by category; sales of electronics were down across the board, in fact 50% below last year at several large stores. Many other retail categories also came in lower than in previous years. Speaking anonymously, one manager voiced concerns that consumers did all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, and that stores would see bleak December sales. Despite the lower sales overall, one area which did perform well according to our source was clothing; in fact, if clothing sales continue on their current trend, they will likely be higher than last year.
The movement away from electronics towards clothing may signal an early shift in the mindset of consumers as they do holiday shopping. A dress shirt given as a gift this year may be better received than a new mp3 player by many rational consumers. The shift towards clothing isn't new, retailers have already seen more consumers purchasing clothing on sale rather than purchasing a gift card in recent months.
With tow of the top three shopping days already behind us and many retailers still coming up short it may spell good news for consumers in the form of increased CyberMonday promotions on December 1. Still the overall lag in sales is troubling from an economic standpoint, as it may spell an end to many retail stores; costing jobs and tax revenue that many cities depend on.
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