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

November 30, 2008 by Douglas A. McIntyre

AngrybearSome 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