Tracking Black Friday: Retail Out of the Gate OK
BY: David Moin
Early indications suggest holiday shopping on track, but anything is possible with 25 days left.
And they’re off.
Retailers had a good start to holiday 2019 shopping, lifted by mostly favorable weather conditions, accelerating online and mobile shopping, and widespread early but controlled promotions often offering 25 to 50 percent off. Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch and other retailers have been seeing momentum since late in the third quarter after sluggish business through most of the period. . . .
. . . According to Planalytics, which helps retailers in their planning based on weather patterns and forecasts, many markets in the western U.S. will be 5 to 20 degrees colder this weekend compared to last year, after just experiencing a cold and snowy Thanksgiving. That has driven sales of winter apparel and accessories and snow removal items and shifted more purchasing online.
Los Angeles had its coldest Thanksgiving in over 50 years and its wettest since 1983 and is tracking to have its coldest Black Friday weekend since 2010, Planalytics said. San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas and San Diego all had their coldest Thanksgivings since 2010. There was heavy snowfall from Denver to Minneapolis, though much of it hit smaller markets such as Montana where retailers have less exposure. In the east, it’s been a dry week, with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, supporting traffic in stores and malls. However, it’s not nearly as cold as last year, with New York and Boston experiencing their warmest Thanksgivings since 2015 and Baltimore, its warmest since 2007.
Luckily for East Coast retailers, wet weather isn’t expected until Sunday, which is always the slowest shopping day of Black Friday period as Americans recover from shopping in the days before and stay home. For the Thursday to Sunday period, markets in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region are trending 5 to 15 degrees warmer than a year ago. Based on the weather, Planalytics forecast that sweater sales this week would be up 6 percent in San Francisco and 9 percent in Phoenix, but down 3 percent in Miami. Winter boots would be up 48 percent in Denver and 5 percent in Minneapolis but down 10 percent in Baltimore. Thermals would be up 16 percent in L.A. but down 10 percent in New York.
“It’s very much a regional story and a total flip from last year,” Evan Gold, executive vice president of Planalytics, told WWD on Friday. He sees traffic in Eastern stores and malls good from Thanksgiving through Saturday, though sales of sweaters, boots and thermals will ultimately be down, as retailers find it hard to meet comps from last year. “Black Friday weeklong sales are growing steadily and have for many years,” pulling business out of early December, observed Johnson, of Customer Growth Partners. Over Black Friday itself, sales as a percent of November to December total retail sales (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) have risen to 9.5 percent this year, from 7.5 percent in 2000.
He sees Black Friday’s share of total sales “plateauing” due to many stores that opened on the afternoon of Thanksgiving reverting to closing them for the holiday. . . .