My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is out. This morning, we look at the retail theater that is Black Friday:  Beware of bad Shopmas data!

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

“The news media aren’t any better. They breathlessly cover shopping as if it were an Olympic event. The big-box retailers play right into the coverage. Each year, we are regaled with stock footage of the 6 a.m. crush, a near-riot battle for the heavily discounted electronics doodad of which only a few are for sale. It is ugly and crass. I see a scene from “The Hunger Games” rather than a modern industrialized nation gratefully celebrating the bounty provided us.

Footage of people camped out at Best Buy or elsewhere is not remotely a celebration. Rather, it’s a reminder of just how economically distressed a large percentage of our populace is. It’s a Barbie, for crying out loud — do you really need to LEAVE YOUR FAMILY FOR THREE DAYS TO camp out for that?”

We will start to see some of the “data points” Monday, then get the actual information a few weeks later.  Don’t bet on accuracy in the initial run of numbers.


Retail theater: Beware of bad Shopmas data!
Barry Ritholtz
Washington Post, December 1 2013  

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Consumer Spending, Really, really bad calls, Retail

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.

8 Responses to “WaPo: Beware Bad Shopmas data!”

  1. flocktard says:

    One tweet in my feed informs me that more business was done on Thanksgiving Day than Black Friday itself. I find that highly implausible.

  2. louiswi says:

    Barry, you just could not be more correct in your assessment. Many of us choose not to participate and some like yourself eloquently rail against the nature of our current society. How this will end or how the course of our society alters toward more civilized conduct remains to be seen. I’m not optimistic. For most of us, not participating is our only hope for altering this behavior.

    • My mom was visiting from Florida for Thanksgiving weekend. She asked “Who is up for some Black Friday shopping” in a room full of her 3 kids 9+ spouses) and 6 grandkids.

      No takers

      • jeff in indy says:

        Peggy Noonan’s piece in Saturday’s WSJ nailed it. We have permitted to be taken, in all likelihood, our most sacred, non-political, non-religious holiday, a day in which to simply be thankful for our families and what we have been granted and turned it into another day of profit. Scrooge is alive and well.

      • Even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally

      • jeff in indy says:

        evidently, we’re not yet blind enough.

  3. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Members of the poor and working class would say the ‘loss leader’ type sales on cutting edge electronics are worth them sacrificing family time to wait in line as the number one factor influencing their daily lives is money. Their desperation makes for good ‘slumming’ video on store security cameras.

    Speaking of which, many moons ago, back when Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera were pre-teen hot-ticket items, a news crew here in Chicago caught an ‘entrepreneur’ in the act of unloading his van of homeless men to wait in line for concert tickets. He claimed he was giving the homeless jobs. Yet the news crew showed up because other segments of society found this behavior objectionable. The more things change, the more they stay the same.