It was supposed to be a kickoff to a lackluster holiday season.
The day after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday,” showed that might not be the case. Sales jumped 7.2 percent for Friday and Saturday combined – a total increase of $16.4 billion.
Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year and according to Bloomberg, it was important because it could serve as an indicator to show how the rest of the holiday shopping season will go. And, a successful holiday shopping season will determine whether or not if some retailers are profitable for the year.
But not everyone was hopeful leading into the weekend.
So much for predictions. According to ShopperTrak, a company that tracks retail sales, sales rose 8.3 percent on Black Friday from 2006. Although sales were down for individual shoppers for this year, from to $360 in 2006 to $348 this year according to the National Retail Federation (a decrease of 3 percent), it wasn’t the dismal scenario some in the media were warning of.
“The results [of an ABC News/Washington Post poll indicating a high level of economic pessimism] are troubling with Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, just days away,” wrote Madeleine Perez on ABCNews.com on November 20. “With gas holding at $3.10 a gallon, rocky credit and housing markets and an unstable stock market, retailers’ prospects seem highly uncertain.”
According to the poll, 68 percent of the respondents said the economy was getting worse, up from 55 percent the previous month.
If 68 percent of Americans are indeed worried about the economy, they didn’t show it by staying away from retailers in significant numbers. Foot traffic at malls was up 6.5 percent.
“This year’s holiday madness has begun and with all the negative sentiment heading into the season given an overall disappointing third quarter earnings per share season, we believe this year's Black Friday weekend was overall not as bad as expectations (or recent stock activity) had priced in,” Adrianne Shapira, Benjamin H. Rowbotham and Poonam Goyal of the investment bank Goldman Sachs wrote on Investors’ Soapbox on Barron’s Web site on November 26.