Sanity Clause

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

You can’t a fool a me.  There ain’t no Sanity Clause.

Barry Ritholtz made a not so bold prediction at the beginning of December that I highlighted on the 5th (Pepper Spray Saves Santa).  Even way back in the dim dark mists of History that those born yesterday don’t remember and I was working retail shipping and receiving we knew holiday sales reports were thin tissues of lies put together by buyers to save their asses from the piles of remainders we’d get stuck inventorying in February after marking it down to nothing.

Rithholtz followed up with this-

Retail Sales Disappoint on False Black Friday Reports

Author: Barry Ritholtz, EconoMonitor

December 13th, 2011

Today, we learn that many breathless forecasts from NRF to ShopperTrak were so much hot air and empty hype: Sales were flat to up only modestly. Total U.S. retail sales in November gained only 0.2%, following a 0.6% October. Even that month was revised downwards.

Retailers themselves may pay the price for their massive discounting: Not only might their quarterly earnings be affected by the margin pressure, but they continually train investors shoppers to hunt for discounts. Retail therapy and sport shopping are being replaced by extreme couponing and sites like Living Social and Groupon.

We are left to ponder what those folks who were lining up late at night at Wal-Mart and Best Buy for bargains were doing. No, it was not a sign of “shopping enthusiasm,” it was a sign of extreme economic distress. No one who can afford otherwise goes out Thanksgiving night to stand in the cold with a crowd, to fight the stampeding, pepper-spraying mob for a discounted X Box.

Here is your simple formula:

Thanksgiving Thursday night shopping + record food stamps = Bad Economy

I almost pointed that out because I’m greedy for any affirmation of sanity, but today, like a Red Nosed Rudolph, we have The New York Times reporting-

As Sales Lag, Stores Shuffle the Calendar


Published: December 15, 2011

A sharp drop in shopping since Thanksgiving weekend has prompted worried retailers to slash prices, extend specials, stay open later – and rewrite the calendar.

Usually one of the most heavily discounted shopping days of the year, the Saturday before Christmas – it falls on Dec. 24 this year – is too crucial to retailers’ holiday sales to be left in the hands of procrastinating Christmas Eve shoppers. Instead, many of the promotions pegged to “Super Saturday,” as the day is known in the retail industry, are now scheduled for this Saturday – a full eight days before Christmas.

The dueling Saturdays might seem like a lot of consternation about nothing to consumers weary of faux shopping events: Black Friday, Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday, Red Tuesday, Mobile Sunday, Green Monday and Free Shipping Day (Friday this year, for those keeping track).

But the worries are real for retailers who are seeing the season slip away from them, and the potential effects on the economy are considerable.

After a Thanksgiving weekend that set records in terms of sales, in-store shopping has dropped significantly in the two weeks that followed. The cumulative drop from Thanksgiving-week sales in those weeks, of 2.4 percent, was the biggest since 2000, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. The Commerce Department said this week that retail sales in November, including online sales, came in lower than analysts had expected, rising just 0.2 percent to $399.3 billion, the smallest increase in five months.

“That suggests we may not get quite as much momentum in the holiday-sales season as people were expecting,” said Peter Buchanan, an economist at CIBC World Markets. Given that consumer spending makes up the majority of the gross domestic product, he said, “the chances of having a really decent recovery are rather limited if consumers continue to hold back.”Almost 40 percent of Americans said they were done with their holiday shopping as of last week, according to a survey from America’s Research Group and UBS, suggesting there may not be too much spending left to do.

Merry eksmas suckers.

He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

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