Blacker Friday: Sales Down 10%.

A few days ago, I said that I predicted poor retail sales for Christmas this year. That prediction is looking more sound: Black Friday, the traditional kickoff for the Christmas sales season, was not the bonanza retailers were hoping for:

Total sales in the US on Black Friday fell 10% to $10.4bn this year, down from $11.6bn in 2014, according to research firm ShopperTrak.

The decline in sales on the traditional busiest shopping day of the year has been blamed on shops opening the day before. But this year, sales on Thanksgiving also dropped, and by the same percentage, to $1.8bn.

Opening on Thanksgiving may or may not have had an impact. But I place the majority of blame on the factor that nobody wants to acknowledge: Americans are buying less because they can afford less. The economic recovery is stagnant, at best.

A big reason for the decline is increased online shopping, as Americans hunt down deals on their smartphones, tablets and computers. Many retailers are also offering bargains long before Thanksgiving, limiting the impact of Black Friday specials.

Online retailers have been bombarding customers with email discounts and bargains for weeks. Online sales jumped 14.3% on Friday compared with last year, according to Adobe, which tracked activity on 4,500 retail websites. Email promotions drove 25% more sales compared with 2014, the company said.

I do practically all of my shopping online. Why should I waste my time and effort crawling through bodies at Target or the mall when I can get better deals for nearly zero effort by ordering from Amazon? Answer: I shouldn’t. Merry Christmas!

Brick-and-mortar retailers saw fewer customer visits on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, compared with last year, according to Kevin Kearns, ShopperTrak’s chief revenue officer.

Shoppers are researching products ahead of time, targeting their store visits, and arriving in store with the intention of making a purchase,” Kearns said.

The drop in Thanksgiving Day visits may also reflect a “social backlash” against stores opening on that day, Kearns said.

Chris Christopher, director of consumer economics at consulting firm IHS, said many retailers’ warehouses and store shelves were overstocked heading into the fall. That prompted many to offer deep discounts as early as the beginning of this month.

The Christmas season will help retailers clear out their overstocked inventories. But the damage is already done; producers expecting to ship large orders to retailers now have to contend with lowered demand for new products.

I worked in the electronics section of a department store for 3 years. I got my fill of dealing with Black Friday idiots looking for the cheapest pieces of crap they could find. My personal policy these days is to not leave the house on Black Friday. I watch Seinfeld instead.

Were you not waiting in line at a store to partake in the Black Friday insanity? If not, here’s what you missed:

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