SAN FRANCISCO Nov 29 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
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
"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
"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
"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)
((firstname.lastname@example.org, + 1 415-677-3975; Reuters
((See blogs.reuters.com/shop-talk/ for Shop Talk --
Reuters' retail and consumer blog.))