Do Strong “Black Friday” Sales Mean Success?

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Several retail research firms believe that “Black Friday” store traffic could trump that of the last three years. But, that does not mean the shopping season will be a success.

The “Black Friday” weekend may post record store traffic. That would mean relief to store owners who have suffered since 2008. But, retail habits have changed enough so that foot traffic to stores could be a poor representation of overall success for the season.

Comscore recently announced that online sales from Thanksgiving to the end of December will be up 15% to $37.6 billion when compared to the same period last year. That means Amazon.com’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) retail machine will gain revenue. It has several new products to draw people to its website. The most important of these is the Kindle Fire. There is a theory that shoppers look at what they want to buy in stores and then order the items from Amazon.com to get the best prices, and free shipping.

There has also been a shift from the purchase of gifts on “Black Friday” to purchases in mid-December. Shoppers believe, in some cases, that as the end of the year approaches, retail outlets will lower prices to clear inventory.

“Black Friday” store traffic could be a false signal about how overall holiday sales will fare.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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