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Friday, November 27, 2015 11:45 AM

Thin Crowds, Subdued Shopping on Black and Blue Friday; Thanksgiving Shopping a Bust

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Retailers, especially big-box retailers will be blue if light shopping carries over for the rest of the season. The Wall Street Journal reports Thinner Crowds on Black Friday.

Millions of Americans left their Thanksgiving meals to hit stores across the country in an annual shopping ritual, but the crowds on early Black Friday morning were thinner than years past at some malls and shopping districts.

Thinner crowds could spell problems for retailers, some of whom entered the holidays warning of uneven consumer demand and elevated levels of inventory. But the smaller crowds could also reflect deeper changes in how Americans shop: Increasingly, they are spending more online and making fewer visits to stores.

Driving up to a nearly empty parking lot at a Wal-Mart in Houston on Friday morning, Dora Rodriguez, 39 years old, stopped her silver hatchback in surprise and called out her window to another shopper: “Excuse me, the Black Friday sale—it’s ended already?”

Thirty-six percent of consumers said they planned to shop online only during this year’s holiday season, up from 19% who said so last year, according to the investment bank Jefferies. By comparison, just 18% of consumers said they planned to shop only in physical stores this year, down from 35% who said so a year ago.

“The competition is led by Amazon and that factors into how other retailers set their prices,” said Paul Trussell, a Deutsche Bank analyst.
Subdued Start to Shopping Season

Reuters reports Black Friday Crowds Thin in Subdued Start to U.S. Holiday Shopping.
Crowds were thin at U.S. stores and shopping malls in the early hours of Black Friday and on Thanksgiving evening as shoppers responded to early holiday discounts with caution and bad weather hurt turnout.

"We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust," analysts at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey said in a research note. "Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores."

Scott Tuhy, vice-president at Moody's who tracks companies like Macy's Inc (M.N), said crowds on Thursday evening in New Jersey were steady but not busy. He said some stores saw a fair amount of activity around orders that were placed online and picked up in stores.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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