E-Commerce Spending Flat For “Black Friday” (AMZN)(EBAY)(WMT)(TGT)

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Some figures picked up in the media from research house ShopperTrak showed retail sales on Black Friday up 3%, which was much better than the most gloomy forecasts. The level of consumer spending may not stay high, but it is an indication that the holiday may not be a complete washout for a retail industry which was already on the ropes.

For the last several years, e-commerce holiday sales have grown faster than in-store revenues. That trend may be coming to an end.

The latest numbers from comScore show that Black Friday online revenue was up a measly 1% this year, to $534 million. 

For the holidays so far, beginning on November 1, e-commerce revenue is now off 4% to $10.4 billion.

If would be an odd reversal for futures if bricks-and-mortar stores showed better gains this year than online "stores" did.

The stock market may be anticipating just such a turnabout in fortunes. Over the last three months, shares of Wal-Mart (WMT) are off less than 5%. Shares of Target (TGT) are off 35%. But, the stock prices of Amazon (AMZN) and Ebay (EBAY) have both fallen almost 50% for the period.

Shopping online may have lost its charm, especially in a poor economy. At least in a store a shopper can bargain with the sales person. In a recession, this is pretty important.

Douglas A. McIntyre