Saturday, November 26, 2005

Black Friday sales hot or not?

Bidness: It depends, AP decides to use only ShopperTrak, while Bloomberg uses that and National Retail Federation. In case anyone doesn't know the best discounts comes closer to Christmas, plus online sales haven't been added in yet.

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Retail sales were little changed on the first day of the U.S. holiday shopping season after a record Black Friday a year ago, indicating shoppers may be waiting to make purchases Sales on Nov. 25 totaled $8 billion, down 0.9 percent from a record 2004, according to a preliminary estimate issued today by ShopperTrak RCT Corp. Consumers may not feel pressure to shop early this year because the season has been extended and retailers are doing ``heavy discounting,'' the company said. It was still ``a big start for the season,'' said Bill Martin, co-founder and executive vice president of Chicago-based ShopperTrak, in an interview. ``We know that doorbusters continued to drive more and more traffic in the stores. The question is: Are the retailers able to take advantage of that increased traffic and make it profitable?'' Martin said discounts may have also hurt sales. Some electronics were being sold at ``30 percent lower than last year,'' he said. ShopperTrak's estimate stands in contrast to the National Retail Federation, which yesterday said sales on the holiday weekend may rise above the $22.8 billion of revenue last year. The federation said sales on Black Friday were strong and that it was ``the most promotional in history.'' The day after Thanksgiving got its name because it's when many retailers are said to become profitable for the year. ``Although the Black Friday number is a bit flat, this may be misleading as we're comparing this to a very strong 2004 performance,'' Michael Niemira, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said in the ShopperTrak statement. ``While Black Friday is important to retailers, it's not always the best indicator for consumer shopping patterns during the remainder of the holiday season, which should allow the retail industry to continue feeling optimistic,'' he said. Retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Best Buy Co. offered discounts, giveaways and gimmicks to lure people to stores. Shoppers flocked to stores during the weekend and many retailers reported crowds. Sears Holdings Corp. said yesterday many of its U.S. stores had dozens of people waiting outside before they opened.

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