Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Did Cyber Monday and Black Friday Bomb? Don't Buy the Reports

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Did Cyber Monday and Black Friday Bomb? Don't Buy the Reports

Article excerpt

In all the bustle of Cyber Monday and Black Friday, did consumers forget to bring their wallets? You might wonder about that, judging by some reports tracking consumer activity on the traditional launch days of the holiday retail season.

But the lackluster early gauges aren't necessarily accurate. And even if sales have been slow in the post-Thanksgiving days, that doesn't forecast how the overall retail season will go.

Many economists are still predicting a season of sales gains, rooted in an improving overall job market, modest income growth for consumers, and lower gas prices.

David French of the National Retail Federation says that reports of a sales dip this weekend, compared with last year, may actually be sign of greater strength in the US economy.

"Folks are a little bit more confident that they don't have to rush out and get that deal" right on Thanksgiving weekend, said, Mr. French, an NRF senior vice president, said in a Monday appearance on C-SPAN.

The industry federation has predicted overall holiday sales rising about 4 percent this year, compared with 2013.

Yet polling of shoppers done for the NRF suggested that sales fell 11 percent for Thanksgiving weekend, which is typically a vital kickoff moment for holiday shopping.

Could the sales dip be a real sign of trouble?

Well, there have been some not-so-hot signals in the economy. Consumer confidence dipped a bit in a monthly report released just before Thanksgiving. And despite progress in the job market, many Americans still feel stretched thin as the face rising prices for things like food, health care, and college tuition.

Separately, retailers weren't helped this weekend by justice- oriented protests that targeted some big malls in the wake of a controversial grand jury decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the shooting death of a black teen. …

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