QUOTEBOX-Analysts' take on Black Friday data

SAN FRANCISCO Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:00pm EST

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SAN FRANCISCO Nov 29 (Reuters) - U.S. consumers spent significantly less at the start of the holiday season this weekend, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation on Sunday. [ID:nN29408611]

The data came one day after ShopperTrak said Black Friday sales rose 0.5 percent. [ID:nN28263325]

Here are some comments from industry analysts and executives outlining their take on the start of the holiday shopping season, and what -- if anything -- early data is showing about the strength of sales headed into Christmas:

TOM STEMBERG, MANAGING GENERAL PARTNER AT HIGHLAND CONSUMER FUND AND FOUNDER OF STAPLES (SPLS.O)

"The biggest mistake people make is to look at Black Friday at all. It shouldn't be called Black Friday. It should be called Red Friday. If you look at most retailers' books, 90 percent of what they sell, they sell on their doorbuster specials ... between 4 and 6 in the morning. And it's all sold at a loss.

"The theory that they can use this as a way of exposing customers to more of their offering is pure nonsense. Because really what happens is the person who comes in to Wal-Mart (WMT.N) at 4:30 in the morning and picks up the doorcrasher special is then too busy running out to Best Buy (BBY.N) so they can make it to their 6 a.m. specials."

BILL DREHER, SENIOR ANALYST AT DEUTSCHE BANK

"I don't know how much we can really learn based on this weekend's sales. It's about 10 percent of overall holiday sales and so do we have an overwhelming all-clear signal based on Black Friday? No, definitely not ...

"This November, (same-store) sales are going to be incredibly important to gauge the state of consumer spending, and thus fourth-quarter earnings and stock trajectory, and it's also an important statement about the economic recovery. The problem is that while indicators are that traffic is definitely back and customers are in stores, there's a mixed message about ticket."

JEFF EDELMAN, RSM MCGLADREY'S DIRECTOR OF RETAIL AND CONSUMER ADVISORY SERVICES

"First of all, I question anybody's ability to predict within half a percent or a percent what sales were over the weekend. It's just not that precise. Having said that, this has always been the kick-off to the holiday season. Stores ran their promotions accordingly. They buy into this, so some of it's giveaway, some of it's special purchases. But what they're trying to do is create the excitement, drive the traffic and get some incremental sales."

BILL TAUBMAN, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, TAUBMAN CENTERS INC (TCO.N)

"I don't have a lot of confidence in the number, positive or negative that they (ShopperTrak) come up with. I think when you look at the credit card charge numbers, those tend to be much more reliable. When Mastercard and Amex and Visa start to come out with their numbers of what their total charges were on a comp basis, that's a much more reliable indicator of the kind of money that was spent."

PATRICIA EDWARDS, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT STOREHOUSE PARTNERS:

"I don't think anyone is panicked about not getting any must-have items, because the only must-have items I'm hearing about are Zhu Zhu pets and hand-held electronics, and there are plenty of hand-held electronics ... and Zhu Zhu Pets are going to be like Tribbles," she said, referring to the frequently multiplying furry pets from "Star Trek."

SCOTT TUHY, ANALYST AT MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE

"I think a year ago, consumers were being panicky. I think now they are being cautious."

TED VAUGHAN, PARTNER, BDO SEIDMAN RETAIL AND CONSUMER PRODUCTS PRACTICE:

"From a historical level, margins will still be down ... Hopefully, there will be some improvement from last year." (Reporting by Nicole Maestri in San Francisco and Bradley Dorfman in Chicago, editing by Matthew Lewis) ((nicole.maestri@thomsonreuters.com, + 1 415-677-3975; Reuters Messaging: nicole.maestri.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ((See blogs.reuters.com/shop-talk/ for Shop Talk -- Reuters' retail and consumer blog.))

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