Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Sales Show Divide Between Shoppers

At New York Times, "Opening Day for Shoppers Shows Divide":
As the busiest retail weekend of the year begins late Thursday night, the differences between how affluent and more ordinary Americans shop in the uncertain economy will be on unusually vivid display.

Budget-minded shoppers will be racing for bargains at ever-earlier hours while the rich mostly will not be bothering to leave home.

Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Target will start their Black Friday sales earlier than ever — at 9 and 10 p.m. in some instances — with dirt-cheap offers intended to secure their customers’ limited dollars. A half a day later, on Friday morning, higher-end stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom will open with only a sprinkling of special sales.

The low-end and midrange retailers are risking low margins as they cut prices to attract shoppers, while executives at luxury stores say that they are actually able to sell more at full price than in recent boom years.

“We’re now into a less promotional environment than we were before the recession,“ said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks. In the third quarter, for instance, Saks reduced the length of an annual sale to three days from four, and excluded the high-margin category of cosmetics from another regular sale.

Retail analysts are expecting a decent holiday season, with many estimating that sales will increase about 3 percent over last year, with contributions from shoppers across income levels. Yet the Friday after Thanksgiving, the kickoff to the highest-revenue weeks for stores, is expected to lay bare the increasingly parallel universes of retailing in America, the analysts said.

“Those in a more modest income situation are the people who are going to the Wal-Marts and the Best Buys and the Targets at 8, 9, 10, 11 p.m. with little kids in tow because they can’t afford a baby sitter,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultant firm. “It’s a very unpleasant shopping experience, frankly, for a lot of people.”
Right. Kids are unpleasant. Can't afford a babysitter. Give me a break.

Now back to the real world.

This parallel universe is mostly bullshit. Whatever divide we have in the holiday shopping experience isn't just now emerging. I worked valet parking at South Coast Plaza back in the 1980s. And I'll tell you, that's some high-powered shopping over there. Not too many discount stores. Wealthy people were everywhere. Folks with less didn't shop there. I didn't much shop there, except maybe at Broadway or some of the bookstores open back then. The rest was designer boutiques and high-end department stores, like Saks, cited at the Times piece. Perhaps such journalism provides sympathy for the oppressed 99 percent. But smart readers can see through the crap. They enjoy the time with their families over the holidays and they get back to work the week after Black Friday.


William Teach said...

Funny part of the story is the fact that the fancy pants NY Times writers would never lower themselves to shop in these "low class" places. They are the "1%."