5 Ways It's Already Black Friday
1. The guessing game has begun. At this time of year, just about anyone can see how sales figures, job numbers and overall U.S. spending are faring and draw some sort of reasonable conclusion about how all of this will play out during the holiday season.
The National Retail Federation finds that all a bit too droll. Instead, the industry group gets consumers to talk about what they plan on spending during the holiday and just how super awesome their whole experience will be. On Oct. 3, the NRF declared that holiday sales this year will increase 3.9%, to more than $601 billion.
Granted, the people answering their survey can always say whatever they'd like and then look at the actual price of things and cut way back.That happened last year, when the NRF forecast a 4.1% rise in sales to $586.1 billion. That prediction, which NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay called "the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession," fell so short last year that the NRF itself came under fire from blogger Barry Ritholz for failing to mention that there was "zero correlation between what people say their gift shopping intentions are on these surveys and what they actually spend." (M), Kohl's (KSS), Target and Nordstrom (JWN) to report a drop in November sales from the same month in 2011. The 16 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters (TRI) during November recorded an overall 1.6% same-store sales increase, which would have been fine had analysts not predicted a 3.3% jump. The NRF's somewhat more sober take is further tempered by Shay's warning that his group is "balancing continued uncertainty in Washington and an economy that has been teetering on incremental growth for years." Basically, if the government stays shut down much longer, a holiday season that was already looking mediocre could turn into an outright disaster.
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