We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our national fascination with holiday shopping is once again at 'all in' mode. Black Friday has passed, Cyber Monday is upon us. Cyber Monday was originally a fictional concept, with online retailers suggesting for years that the Monday after Black Friday was the heaviest online shopping day of the year. It wasn't. When it was first suggested, it was twelfth largest holiday shopping day. However, Cyber Monday is now a cultural meme and last year became the largest online shopping day for Amazon simply because that's how it was marketed.
Regardless of which day is largest online, Black Friday remains the shopping holiday that resonates. Every year, we hear it used as a bellwether on the health of our animal spirits toward spending. This year, we've heard that it's indicative of great things to come! Then again, it was used that way last year, too. 2011 has proven to be substantially larger than 2010, in terms of Black Friday spending (6.6% growth versus 0.3% growth year over year). Ultimately, Black Friday of 2010 indicated nothing of importance economically, because most of the holiday spending increases were from high income folk. The large initial growth on Black Friday this year may not say much more than people are looking for bargains, and retailers are seeking to burn off inventory.
There are many aspects to this.
One is what people spend.
Another is what they borrow, in order to buy.
Another is what the stores make.
Another is whether the momentum carries through to the rest of the holiday season.
One note: online holiday spending on Black Friday was up 24%. Which means most of the 6% increase on Black Friday didn't come from foot traffic, even though foot traffic was up. What does that say?
I'm not sure - I'm just asking.
One of my kids works retail in LA and was released early on Black Friday because there weren't any customers walking into their mall based store. Never mind buying - no one was even walking into the store.