Barry Ritholtz shared the following infographic on The Big Picture blog today.
In a time when so many are clamoring for our government to reign in spending, and some of the Occupy Wall Street folks protesting the Black Friday, I expected a dip in sales when compared against last year. Imagine my surprise when I read the following quote.
Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent to the largest amount ever as U.S. consumers shrugged off 9 percent unemployment and went shopping.
Looking back at Ritholtz’s graphic, the section on who we were planning to buy for is telling. 46% of shoppers were planning to shop only for themselves and another 18% were looking for things for themselves and others. Thus, in this time of scaling back and calling for austerity, we’re also breaking shopping records while primarily buying things for ourselves. I hate to break it you, but that dog won’t hunt. As my grandpa has often said, “Shit in one hand and wish in another and see which one happens first.” If we want the government to start acting responsibly, we need to start by getting our own houses in order. I don’t have all the answers to our economic issues, but I’m certain that retail therapy, for those who are straining under personal debt burdens, is not the answer.
For those who’ve camped out, I wonder what your return was? If you spent 48 hours on the porch of Best Buy, in the hopes of “saving ” $400 on a TV, you’re essentially saying your time is worth less than $10/hr (And that assumes you’ll end up with the TV). If you didn’t get the TV…
We also have the ongoing issue of shopper violence during these events. A Google search of “Black Friday violence” returned over five and a half million hits. I’d love to put the onus on the retailers (They are the ones setting the traps, no?), but I think we need to do a bit of navel gazing here. (When am I not calling for that?) So, if I’m to be the shrill voice, so be it, but I can assure you, you won’t like it.
“You have been warned!”