6:44AM Morgan Hill, CA I’ve covered retail for 10 years and and have never been in the habit of enjoying Black Friday festivities. Perhaps it was the many, many years I’ve spent in the business end of the Christmas season, first as cheap child labor working in my dads meat shop, later at Mervyn’s. Once I shifted over to the analyst ranks I’ve sort of enjoyed staying away from stores this time of year as much as possible. But given the state of the retail industry in 2008 and the certain knowledge that the main stream media would find and report any negative aspect to Black Friday I ventured out. It was my duty.
- 4:40AM – In car heading to the Gilroy premium outlets with several purchases in mind.
- 5:01AM – Confidence in the US main stream media was rewarded. Some nameless reporter on a national news feed had declared confidently that Black Friday was a bust or something to that effect.
- 5:02AM – Turn into Best Buy parking lot to be greeted by a line slowly moving into the store but wrapping around the building. The parking lot is as full as I’ve ever seen it and none of the other stores are even open. Good sign. I manage to find a parking spot.
- 5:04AM – Store is packed. I manage to secure the items I came for- all great deals.
- 5:35AM – Back in the car. Success.
- 5:40AM – Wonder what’s happening at Wal-Mart up the road? Packed.
- 5:44AM- Target in the other direction. Packed. OK this is at least a decent sign.
- 5:55AM – Drive up to the front section of the outlets. The entire parking lot, and it’s a big one is packed.
So what are the takeaways from my very unscientific analysis of Black Friday?
1. Black Friday sales will be mildly disappointing. Much of the traffic will be driven by deep discounts
2. Christmas this year will be difficult. Most likely we will see negative growth
3. Main stream media should confine their Black Friday reports to length of lines, number of shoppers and the occasional fight over that last prized toy and leave the financial analysis to people qualified to do it.