Not only did consumers come out in droves for the holiday season, but they actually spent more as well. The total ended up 16% higher than last year mostly due to consumers spending roughly 10% more than last year while more shopped than normal.
Naturally economists will point back to the strong 2008 Black Friday period that then saw spending fizzle. This will be the feared example that a weak consumer is only willing to buy deep discounts.
While highly possible, nothing shows that 2011 will see anything close to a repeat of 2008. The economy isn't in a recession now like 2008. Not to mention, the whole world isn't falling apart like back in the period leading up to Christmas 2008. How could consumers even think about picking up spending back then as fear of a financial collapse spread?
Cyber Monday will be telling as to whether consumers have already over spent. Retailers moved forward sales to Thanksgiving day and lured in online shoppers at record rates. Any pull forward would undoubtedly show up in weak Cyber Monday numbers.
While the pace will naturally slow down as 16% growth is just unsustainable, what is clear is that shoppers will continue to surprise economists and analysts alike that doubt them. Whether due to more jobs in the economy, smaller mortgage payments (some from strategic defaults), or just pent up demand from several years of thrifty spending the consumer is out in full force this year.
Don't forget no matter how the sales data gets spun on Monday, the amounts were a record by far.
Per Yahoo! News:
- Americans shrugged off economic gloom to post record Thanksgiving weekend sales of $52.4 billion, the National Retail Federation said Sunday, as shoppers prepared for "Cyber Monday" online deals.
- Sales over the long holiday weekend were up 16 percent compared to last year, marking the biggest dollar amount ever spent over the Black Friday period, the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, the NRF said.
- The average holiday shopper -- 226 million of them visiting stores and websites this weekend, according to the association's survey -- spent $398.62, up from $365.34 last year.
- Consumers were likely to continue the trend on Monday, known as "Cyber Monday" for the deep discounts offered on Internet retail sites -- with 37.8 percent of total weekend spending already made online.
- Davis warned against over-optimism, saying that similar Black Friday figures were seen in 2008 during the recession, but afterwards, "nobody shopped for the rest of the holiday season."
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