Black Friday weekend spending substantially below 2011

Three-Day Trend in U.S. Adults' Average Self-Reported Spending "Yesterday"

Source: Gallup


This morning, I noted the errors that merely repeating surveys from PR firms combined with not understanding the cognitive errors inherent in these sorts of exercises. (There is a separate issue of relying on PR industry flacks and spokesgroups who have specific agendas, but I will save that for another day).

As an example of the problem of using self-reported surveys versus actual sales data, another issue arises: Which survey do you use? Which one do you believe?

For example, Gallup did a survey that found the opposite of what NRF found — that spending actually fell — and significantly:

Daily Spending Shows Weak Black Friday Spending

Even as the nation’s retailers heavily promoted early sales on Thanksgiving Day, consumers’ self-reported spending averaged $54 over the three days ending on Thanksgiving this year, compared with $67 in 2011. Black Friday weekend also showed a substantial spending decline in 2012, to $84 from $103 a year ago . . .

Self-reported U.S. consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $67 per day in the week ending Nov. 25, including Black Friday weekend. This is down from $83 a year ago and the $79 comparable for 2010, and essentially matches the 2009 weekly comparable of $69.


My advice is to investors: Don’t cherry pick the survey that confirms your preconceived notions. Instead, look to actual sales data. If you do not want to wait for Commerce or BEA to release their numbers, then use Visa/Master Card –they may be skewed online (cant pay cash) and perhaps demographically, but at least their imprecision is modest. As we saw this morning, the self-reporting surveys results tend to be poor.

Hard retail receipts trump squishy surveys every time.


Thanksgiving Week Spending in U.S. Down From a Year Ago
Dennis Jacobe
Gallup November 27, 2012

Category: Consumer Spending, Data Analysis, Markets

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

3 Responses to “Choose Your Defective Survey, Gallup Edition”

  1. SivBum says:

    As my old professor said: garbage in garbage out. The gurus employed by Gallup should know better.

  2. Iamthe50percent says:

    “Hard retail receipts trump squishy surveys every time.” Words to live by. That’s why I prefer the ADP actual payroll results to the government’s surveys. ADP damn well knows how many paychecks they processed. They run a tight ship.

  3. slowkarma says:

    My girlfriend had to go into a Santa Fe Target store on the afternoon of Black Friday, and instead of sitting in the car, I tagged along. Inside, I found four or five cashiers (out of probably ten total) with nothing to do…waiting for people to check out. I asked one of them if it had been really busy earlier, and he said, “It comes and it goes.” I thought, “Uh-oh.”