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Media Hall of Shame: Black Friday Reporting
Posted By Barry Ritholtz On December 2, 2013 @ 6:51 am In Bad Math,Consumer Spending,Data Analysis,Financial Press,Really, really bad calls | Comments Disabled
I am writing up my BBRG coverage of the innumerate business reporting of Black Friday and the holiday shopping weekend. The press as per usual got it wrong again this year.
Here is the press release from the NRF , pushing their usual survey silliness as if it were actual retail sales data:
“More than 141 million unique shoppers have already or will have shopped by the end of the big Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million over the same time frame last year. For those who shopped multiple times over the weekend, the survey found more than 248 million** waited in line, took advantage of big discounts offered throughout the mall and shopped on retailers websites, up from 247 million shoppers last year. According to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics over the weekend, traffic on Thanksgiving Day itself grew 27 percent as nearly 45 million shoppers, or 31.8 percent of holiday shoppers, took advantage of special “turkey day” savings offers, up from 35 million in 2012. Black Friday was the biggest day: more than 92 million people shopped (65.2%) for apparel, electronics and more, up from nearly 89 million last year.
Low prices helped keep Americans’ budgets in check this weekend: on average, shoppers spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday (planned), down from $423.55 last year. Total spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion.”
Here is the NYT , dutifully acting as stenographer for the trade group:
“More than 141 million people shopped online or in stores between Thursday and Sunday, according to a survey released Sunday afternoon by the retail federation, an increase of about 1 percent over last year. And the average amount each consumer spent, or planned to spend by the end of Sunday, went down, dropping to $407.02 from $423.55. Total spending for the weekend this year was expected to be $57.4 billion, a decrease of nearly 3 percent from last year’s $59.1 billion.”
The WSJ  was no better, literally wrong from the very first sentence:
Retail spending over Thanksgiving weekend dropped for the first time in at least seven years, the industry’s main trade group said, as the blitz of deals and earlier opening hours apparently failed to pry more dollars out of the hands of budget-conscious shoppers.
Even Bloomberg  got this wrong:
“U.S. retailers eked out a 2.3 percent sales gain on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, in line with a prediction for the weakest holiday results since 2009.
Sales at brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose to $12.3 billion, according to a report yesterday from ShopperTrak. The Chicago-based researcher reiterated its prediction that sales for the entire holiday season will gain 2.4 percent, the smallest increase since the last recession.”
There are lots of others but I expect more from these 3. My morning commentary at Bloomberg View goes into greater detail. It should be posted later this morning.
Ignore the Black Friday Hype  Bloomberg View Nov 25, 2013 8:05 AM ET
Retail theater: Beware of bad Shopmas data!  Washington Post, November 29, 2013
Did Black Friday save the season? Beware the retail hype.  (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2011)
Retail Sales Disappoint on False Black Friday Reports  (Dec. 13th, 2011)
No, Black Friday Sales Were Not Up 16% (not even 6%)  (Nov. 28th, 2011)
Entering the Holiday Shopping Season (Beware Surveys!)  (Oct. 28th, 2009)
Spinning Black Friday Retail Sales  (Dec. 1, 2008)
Repeat After Me: Spending Surveys Are Meaningless  (Oct. 2007)
More Bad Data from the NRF?  (Nov. 2006)
Holiday Sales Numbers Don’t Add Up  (Dec. 1, 2005)
Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog
URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2013/12/media-hall-of-shame-black-friday-reporting/
URLs in this post:
 NRF: http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=1705
 NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/02/business/economy/gloomy-numbers-for-holiday-shoppings-big-weekend.html
 WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304579404579232514024052616
 Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-30/black-friday-traffic-seen-thinning-as-stores-open-early.html
 Ignore the Black Friday Hype: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-25/ignore-the-black-friday-hype.html
 Retail theater: Beware of bad Shopmas data!: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/retail-theater-beware-of-bad-shopmas-data/2013/11/29/6baf0d54-562f-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html
 Did Black Friday save the season? Beware the retail hype.: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/did-black-friday-save-the-season-beware-the-retail-hype/2011/11/29/gIQAfNCUMO_story.html
 Retail Sales Disappoint on False Black Friday Reports: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/12/retail-sales-dissappoint-on-false-black-friday-reports/
 No, Black Friday Sales Were Not Up 16% (not even 6%): http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/11/no-black-friday-sales-were-not-up-16-not-even-6/
 Entering the Holiday Shopping Season (Beware Surveys!): http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/10/entering-the-holiday-shopping-season-beware-surveys/
 Spinning Black Friday Retail Sales: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/12/spinning-black-friday-retail-sales/
 Repeat After Me: Spending Surveys Are Meaningless: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2007/10/repeat-after-me-spending-surveys-are-meaningless/
 More Bad Data from the NRF?: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2005/12/wsj-holiday-sales-numbers-dont-add-up/
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