For the past ten days I have heard nothing bad news from the drive-by media: "Retail sales will bomb!" "Gas prices will keep everyone at home." "The sub-prime mess will stop everyone from buying anything." The weather is going to be terrible and no one can get anywhere." "People are really down on the economy and will not be buying this year!" ETC., ETC., ETC...
I couldn't turn on a news-cast or read a news paper w/out being totally bummed-out by just how bad everything was. THEN I see that Black Friday generated record sales--more than 8.6% above last year's record, and Cyber-Monday sales increases of +38% over last years record sales.
OMG! Can the Drive-by media be "wrong?" Could they possibly be trying to make us feel BAD about this very GOOD economy??? Could they possibly playing the leftwing card again??? Oh no! OMG!!
You are correct that the media got part of it wrong. BUT...got to read ALL the data. While the number of TRANSACTIONS were up 8%, the amount of DOLLARS SPENT was only up 0.4%. As usual the media can't read economics numbers for shit. WalMart is actually revising forecasts for the weekend to be breakeven $$ [which is better than being DOWN! but not the 4% rise in $$ they were predicting as late as Wednesday.
Cyber Monday can't really count for jack yet as it has not been around long enough to establish a trend. [if you don't get laid in 2006 and get laid ONCE in 2007 a 100% increase might look good on paper but is really only getting laid ONCE].
SubPrime, NOW that is going to give everyone a ride up the ass for the next year. That problem is not getting better, it is still getting worse. The last of the "rewrites" only occurred Q2/2007 which means that problem won't come home to roost until Q3/2008. AND THE BIG FALLOUT SO FAR
is that Abu Dhabi now owns a chunk of Citibank.
Most forecasters are still predicting that this season will be slower. There are no big ticket "gotta haves" like XBox or iPhone being released to generate BUZZ and more shoppers actually used Black Friday to surgically buy the loss leaders instead of wandering the stores on impulse purchases. That is NOT good for retailers.
With inflation in many parts of the retail sector driven by higher transportation costs, anything less than a 4.7% gain is break even. Time will tell.