Black Friday, Cyber Monday Reveal Consumer Confidence

With Black Friday come and gone, heralding the beginning of the holiday season, investors will no doubt be looking forward to reports from the retail sector in the upcoming week as to consumer activity. Tens of thousands of shoppers packed stores nationwide in an attempt to nab the ultimate bargain, but while the consumer numbers were there, what these consumers spent on average and the sales figures from retail groups is what stock market players will be interested in, using this information to base investment decisions on as the holiday season continues. Despite the fact that US markets ended down on Friday, most likely influenced by the financial crisis in Ireland, among other factors, analysts are pointing toward data over the past few weeks that has indicated an improvement in the unemployment rate, and an increase in consumer spending, with consumer confidence working its way out of the doldrums – all tidbits of good news for investors and the US economy in general.

The prevailing concern for major chain stores and retailers with regard to Black Friday is that walk-in retailers are losing ground to the cyber shopping world. Cyber Monday has become a phenomenon in the past few years, where online shoppers can expect to pick up some fantastic bargains from well-known online suppliers, and an increasing number of consumers are choosing to go the route of e-tail rather than retail. In 2009 in excess of $887 million in purchases were made online in that single day. This year Amazon decided to jump the gun by releasing a range of specials on Thanksgiving Day, with thousands of Amazon employees on hand to process incoming orders. Early reports indicate that shoppers supported this new arrangement with great enthusiasm, and although this is likely to impact on Cyber Monday, Amazon is certainly not complaining.

Mobile devices such as SmartPhones and iPads have made online shopping even easier, and it is evident that many consumers did their online shopping straight after Thanksgiving Dinner, wherever they may have been. These mobile devices have also made it possible for shoppers to compare prices in-store with prices online, ensuring that they get the best price possible. Along with other cyber retailers, traditional retail stores are increasing their presence on the worldwide web, and Wal-Mart is promoting what they are calling ‘Cyber Week’ with specials starting on Cyber Monday and continuing through until Friday. Amazon will be offering limited time deals specifically for Cyber Monday and consumers can take advantage of a host of specials from other retailers as well. So, investors will have data covering an extended and diverse range of consumer activity to consider, and not just the traditional Black Friday results.