News and Commentary

Black Friday Sales Set Record But Fewer Shoppers Hit Brick And Mortar Stores
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/11/29: Bargain hunters take advantage of a huge saving as departmental stores on Oxford Street cut down their prices during the Black Friday event. Black Friday is a shopping event where retailers cut prices on the day after the Thanksgiving holiday which originated from the US. (Photo by Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Photo by Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Democrats may be threatening to run on President Donald Trump’s economic “failures,” but American shoppers, at least, believe their paychecks are doing just fine. Black Friday 2019 set sales records, with shoppers scooping up 2.3% more deeply discounted goods this year than last, according to CNBC.

More shoppers, however, elected to make their purchases from the comfort of their own homes, rather than make the post-turkey trip to stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Macys. Foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores dropped nearly 10%, as online Black Friday purchases ticked up.

“Black Friday brick-and-mortar retail sales fell by 6.2% compared to last year as consumers eschewed in-person shopping for online purchasing, according to preliminary data from ShopperTrak,” CNBC reported. “The pullback corresponds with a jump in Black Friday spending online, which hit $7.4 billion, the largest online Black Friday total ever, according to Adobe Analytics.”

Many retailers opted, this year, to put their Black Friday sales — including their “doorbusters,” which used to lure shoppers in to stored Thanksgiving evening and into the wee hours of Friday morning — online, releasing Black Friday circulars as early as November 1st, so shoppers could plot their attack. Stores like Target also gave proprietary credit card holders “early access” to Black Friday deals, giving some shoppers the opportunity to buy inexpensive electronics and deeply discounted goods at Black Friday prices as early as Wednesday.

Consumers also shied away from the typical Black Friday madness. There were fewer public brawls and shocking fights over cheap computers and TVs this year (though European shoppers seemed to pick up the slack).

“The drop in Black Friday physical shopping mirrors a year-long share pullback in departments stores including Macy’s, Kohl’s and Foot Locker, all of which are down more than 25% this year,” experts told the financial news network. Amazon, however, is cleaning up on Black Friday, with an estimated traffic increase of 20% year over year.

The same Adobe Analytics study, which tracked an uptick in online shopping, also noted that Black Friday spending appears to fall in line with a larger consumer trend: a return to shopping overall. That’s great news for President Donald Trump, who has long touted his positive influence on the economy as a key reason for voters returning him to office in 2020.

A report from the University of Michigan released last week seems to underline the idea that consumer confidence is up significantly.

“The university’s index of consumer sentiment climbed to 96.8 from 95.5 last month. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected consumer sentiment to dip to 94.9 for November. An index reflecting consumer expectations moving forward also rose to 87.3 from 84.2 in October,” CNBC reported last Tuesday. “Richard Curtin, chief economist at the Surveys of Consumers, said consumer sentiment has been at 95 or higher in 30 of the past 35 months. That level of optimism has not been seen since the period between January 1998 and December 2000, when the index remained at 100 or above in 34 or 36 months.”

Both of those polls were taken as the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry was going on, showing, apparently, that Americans aren’t swayed by what many experts consider political uneasiness, and as Democrats ramped up their attacks on President Donald Trump, predicting dire economic consquences of the White House’s domestic and foreign policy, including looming recession.

Cyber Monday is expected to deliver even better news; online retailers expect to see nearly $10 billion in sales on Monday alone.

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