Sunday, December 6, 2009

Black Friday Shows Consumer Doubt

By Mary Clare McGraw

This year there was much speculation with how Black Friday would have an effect on the retailers nationwide. A record 195 million shoppers were out looking for deals in stores and online between Thanksgiving and Sunday, November 29th, which, according to the National Retail Federation, was up from the 172 million shoppers during the same time period in 2008. The troubling, yet perhaps expected, phenomenon that took place on the holiday weekend was that average spending dropped to $343.31 per person from last year’s $372.57. These statistics could be a reflection of a lack of consumer confidence due to a still high unemployment rate of more than 10% and a dwindling effect of the stimulus packages given out to companies in the United States.
With a continued weak job market, consumer discretionary spending will also continue to struggle and retailers will not get that big boost they were hoping for. Specialty stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch saw as much as a 17% slump in sales compared to the year before. With consumers increasingly turning to discount retailers and warehouse clubs, specialty stores are finding it difficult to appeal to the fundamental needs of Americans who are shaken by the current economy.

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