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Black Christmas
Posted by: Dale Franks on Friday, December 26, 2008

The initial reports of Christmas retail sales for 2008 are in, and they don't paint a pretty picture.
Price-slashing failed to rescue a bleak holiday season for beleaguered retailers, as sales plunged across most categories on shrinking consumer spending, according to new data released Thursday.

Despite a flurry of last-minute shoppers lured by the deep discounts, total retail sales, excluding automobiles, fell over the year-earlier period by 5.5% in November and 8% in December through Christmas Eve, according to MasterCard Inc.'s SpendingPulse unit.
Graphically, the numbers look like this:

Going into more detail, the pre-season analyst predictions were completely off the mark.
The holiday retail-sales decline was much worse than the already-dire picture painted by industry forecasts, which had predicted sales ranging from a 1% drop to a more optimistic increase of 2.2%.

Luxury goods, once considered immune from economic turmoil, were hardest hit, with sales falling 21.2%, compared with a jump of 7.5% a year ago, when the economy had just begun to sputter. Including jewelry sales, the luxury sector plunged by a whopping 34.5%.

During the same period last year, overall retail sales rose a modest 2.4%, helped by late-season discounting that enticed procrastinating shoppers. But this year, after a moderate uptick in shopping activity boosted by steep promotions the Friday after Thanksgiving, shoppers closed their wallets and reopened them only cautiously, worried by job losses, a sinking stock market and a recession climbing into its second year.
We've already seen a wave a bankruptcies and belt tightening in the retail over the past few months. These numbers means that we're likely to see that trend increasing in the next months.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Whoa! I didn’t think it was that bad. Reading all the papers and sites, I got the feeling things were pretty bad, but the numbers you put up are horrendous.

This will feed into a nasty downward cycle over the next few months(years?).

I don’t think anything the federal government is currently doing will help at all.

This is going to be a long, hard slog.
Written By: jjmurphy
Once Obama gets sworn in and starts redistributing the wealth, the economy should start prospering. Yes, I know, that strategy has never worked before, but he IS the Lightworker, so let’s have some faith.
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
A post I remember from this site last year made what I thought at the time was an excellent point, and still do: We’ve all got so much stuff now, and most of us have the ability to buy what we don’t have, that more of us are abandoning or cutting back on our gift-giving. If that thought was valid last year, it’s moreso this year; I wonder how much of the figures reflect that.
Written By: Diffus
URL: http://
In the spirit of the Obama election, hope and change, I’m waiting until the retailers pay me to take their products. There’s a 48" HDTV flat-screen out there for me, plus a new PC workstation, plus a ton of other goodies. But why should I spend my money on it? I mean, come on... do the retailers think I’m a sucker?

With TARP, Helicopter Ben tossing infinite dollars out the door and all of Obama’s promises of immediate change, I still haven’t received my billion. With what am I supposed to buy goodies? I’m beginning to question the competence of our President-Elect.
Written By: HatlessHessian
URL: http://
In retrospect, was it really a good idea to invest your money with a guy with the name "Madoff" (hint: Made Off).
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Capitalism is dead, it committed suicide.
Written By: TomD
URL: http://
A post I remember from this site last year made what I thought at the time was an excellent point...
Thanks for remembering that post. I think this is the part to which you were referring:
I’m not the least bit surprised that retail spending during Christmas is only growing at a modest rate, and I would not be at all surprised to see it begin to shrink in the years ahead, or at least fall below the rate of growth. My reasoning is simple. I want people to stop giving me stuff. I’ve got too much stuff already.
Written By: Billy Hollis
Capitalism is dead, it committed suicide.
It ain’t dead yet, but the left has done a lot of damage to it.

One positive note: Obama has really helped the gun industry this quarter.
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Personally, I’ve moved from excited to get gifts as a kid, to ambivalent as an adult, to really tempted to tell everyone next year "If you love me, don’t get me a gift (except maybe cash)". I’m firmly middle class and I don’t need more stuff. I’m looking around the house at all the BS knick-knacks people are giving me and I’m tired of it.

Cutting back on Christmas is pretty easy.
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
Billy, I’m glad I didn’t guess at whom the author was; I probably would have guessed. I’m finding elements of that post more relevant each year: can’t shovel stuff out of my house as fast as it comes in, and the emotional turmoil I put myself through each year to find just the right gift for someone is reaching the point where I’m about ready to throw in the towel.

A few hints for givers: I’m trying to walk a line between subtlety and crudity here, but someone needs to tell women they can give something to the special men in their lives that doesn’t require them to BUY anything.

My wife’s family is full of good cooks; unfortunately, the wonderful desserts they make show up only at family gatherings a few times a year, and they’re set upon by the entire family. If you’re a cook and make a great coconut cream pie or Italian cream cake, make one as a gift.

Services that people might not buy for themselves make great gifts: a day at the spa, or several visits by professional maids to clean the house, or a car-detailing might go over well.

You could also give your spouse a book of coupons, redeemable at any time or at one per month, or at some other rate. Use your imagination: A night of peace and quiet, a honey-do without complaint, a special project that otherwise wouldn’t get done, a wild card for anything .... You get the idea.

Sorry to go OT. Back to the thread.
Written By: Diffus
URL: http://
Of course, if The Clown™ would cut taxes instead of spending untold billions to massage the privates of his union buddies, and cut taxes across the board, the stimulus to the economy would be incredible.

But, alas, there are two problems:

The Clown™ doesn’t believe in tax cuts except for those who don’t pay taxes, and his silly party think a "tax cut" is something you inflict on yourself while handling tax forms to send lotsa money to the gubmint.

We will look back in a year, when his "one trillion dollar stimulus" has failed to stem the tide of unemployment, and someone somewhere will say that things would have been different if only tax cuts had been implemented instead.

I, for one, will be one of those in the latter category.
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
Well of course things have got to get worse before they can get better.

As for holiday giving, I just don’t do it anymore. I broke the expectation chain and just told everyone, Hey I don’t like the holidays, leave me alone.

It would be one thing if I had a kid at home, but the holidays are really for children.
Written By: kyleN
My sister works in retail and I was taken aback when she described their recent business as "dismal". But she went on to explain that they were measuring that against expected growth and I wasn’t sure what to think. Now, I know things are not good by any measure, but there are good times, really bad times, and stagnant times. It’s irrational for any business to stake their survival on constant growth.
Written By: Bryan C
URL: http://bcostin.wordpress,com
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