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Rich to shop early, may skew Black Friday sales
November 24, 2009 / 1:33 AM / 8 years ago

Rich to shop early, may skew Black Friday sales

<p>Shoppers run into a Walmart store on "Black Friday" in Oakland, California, November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Kimberly White</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wealthier Americans are expected to jump right into holiday shopping this week, but unemployed U.S. consumers will sit out the early part of the season, suggesting solid Black Friday results could be deceiving, according to a survey released on Monday.

The highest income households, or those earning $150,000 or more, plan to get an early start on their shopping, according to the survey by Consumer Edge Research.

Lower income shoppers and those who have lost their jobs, or fear getting laid off, will wait to see what bargains pop up as Christmas approaches, the survey found.

“As we get further on into December and toward the year end, you’re going be left with low income households that are holding out, and they’ve indicated they’re going to spend a lot less than a year ago,” Consumer Edge Chief Executive Bill Pecoriello told Reuters in an interview.

For every consumer planning to increase how much money he or she will spend during the holiday, there are two and half saying they plan to curb their spending.

Consumer Edge Research surveyed 2,644 adults between October 15 and October 27, with a margin of error of 2 percent.

Household indebtedness will also continue to weigh on any comeback in the retail sector, Pecoriello said.

Of the survey respondents saying they will cut back on holiday spending, a disproportionate number have high credit card debts, he said. On average, consumers surveyed by Consumer Edge that carried balances from the previous month had a credit card balance of $6,791.

So while the affluent and the employed may rush into U.S. malls this weekend, a bumper start to the holidays on Black Friday does not mean it will be the season to be jolly for retailers.

“Even if we get positive data when sales come in for Black Friday, you wouldn’t necessarily extrapolate that out -- things could get tough,” Pecoriello added.

Reporting by Phil Wahba; editing by Andre Grenon

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