Early Black Friday indicators give retailers some hope
No doubt you've heard why today is referred to as "Black Friday" - a day that will go a long way toward putting retailers in the black for the year.
Early indications are that this may be one of the best Black Fridays in years:
Macy's Chief Executive Terry Lundgren, for instance, stood at the door of the company's flagship shop in New York's Herald Square for 18 minutes when it opened at midnight.
The flow never stopped," Lundgren said in an interview, adding that he expects traffic and sales from its stores nationwide to top those from last year, including about 11,000 at the door at the New York store. Sustaining the momentum "is key. We are going to do everything to keep shoppers coming." Read related blog post about shoppers at different stores.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that signals the traditional start of retailers' biggest selling period, actually began on Thursday this year with increasing numbers of retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT +1.19% , Toys "R" Us Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. SHLD +0.55% and Target Corp. TGT +0.53% starting their "doorbuster" promotions earlier than ever on Thanksgiving night.
"Black Friday" gets its name from the notion that it traditionally marks the point each year when retailers start to be profitable.
Store checks point to "robust traffic at the onset of Black Friday," J. P. Morgan analyst Matthew Boss said, adding that his team saw the busiest traffic among stores with the openings at midnight, even though he said the "typical 4 a.m. lull appears a bit deeper and longer at some locations."
Experian Marketing Services is projecting that 2012 holiday sales will be higher than in 2011. Experian's Heather Dougherty joins The News Hub to discuss.
With retailers from Best Buy Co. BBY +0.38% to Amazon AMZN +0.00% introducing Thanksgiving sales online, Internet sales look to reach another record. Record online shopping was seen on Thursday, with sales up 17.4% over 2011, according to IBM Benchmark. The number of shoppers using their mobile device to make a online purchase also rose to 18.3%, about a two-thirds percentage increase from last year, IBM said.
Consumer confidence is up and expectations are high. Double digit growth is expected in online sales as apps to make mobile devices easier to use for shopping are revolutionizing retail.
But many analysts worry that consumers will slow down their buying once the big sales are taken off. This has proven to be the case in years previously, although brisk sales in November hold out the hope for some retailers that pent up demand for goods and more people working will translate into better sales numbers between now and Christmas.