Target the Future

Target stores are raising their employees’ minimum wages to $11 per hour immediately, with a pledge to hit $15 per hour by 2020.

This may seem like a victory for the Democratic platform to raise all workers’ pay to a livable wage, and in many ways it is. But it’s also an important victory for the free market, which is proving that the cyclical depression of workers wages was indeed a temporary, demographically driven problem which will be overcome. It just takes a tremendous amount of time – really a full generation.  More importantly, it shows the direction of retail and possibly the service industry as a whole does have a future as an important part of a dynamic economy. Continue reading

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2016 Holiday Shopping Forecast

It’s time for the Barataria annual Holiday Shopping Report! As we’ve done every year, the best information from those who analyze and predict the season ahead is put into one place. It’s a bit later than usual this year due to severe bizziness on my part, but it’s coming in ahead of the dreaded Black Friday.

Ready for a huge Christmas buying season? So are most retailers. But there are some important caveats.

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Happy Christmas, Happy New Year

The holiday has come. If you’re safely tucked in to your warm winter bed the last thing you may want to think about is shopping. If it ain’t done by now, well, it may not be done. It’s all good. But that is what defines the season for many people and the success of it determines whether or not visions of sugarplums dance in your head about now.

Even if you’re not into the whole rush-rush buying frenzy, a good strong retail season is good for everyone. We can say that this year because if you’d rather think back on the blessings of the year, as any righteous person should, this has been a very good year for the economy. All that remains is for people to accept it and move forward with glad tidings of the season. The shopping sesaon, that is.

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Black Friday – Dead?

Did you hit the stores for “doorbuster” deals and a mad rush for great deals? If you did, you’re one of a smaller group every year as Black Friday and its even darker sibling on Thursday become a feature of Thanksgiving past.

The final data is not in, especially with “Cyber Monday” still in front of us. But this weekend was particularly weak and, if the past is any indication, a sign of a bleak holiday shopping season. But no one thinks this will hold as shopping patterns are changing. The forecast remains for a robust gain of 4.1% year over year.

The death of the Black Friday frenzy is a big story of the year if this pulls out.

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Holiday Shopping, 2014

It’s just about shopping season! Last year, 19.2% of all retail sales were holiday sales – the stuff outside of food, gasoline, and other consumables that took place in the 28 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That’s a total of $597B. This year, there’s one more day in that period and retailers hope for a decent increase.

Will this be a good holiday season that finally shakes off the blues that have plagued retail for the last six years? We’re about to find out.

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Saving Thanksgiving

A store can’t make a profit if it isn’t open, can it? On one very special day of the year, however, it may be much more profitable to stay closed. That special day is Thanksgiving, a sacred holiday that unites families and many traditions of this great Promised Land of North America.

How is that possible? Because the backlash against being open ahead of “Black Friday” is growing and more stores are not just staying closed but announcing their plans proudly. It’s becoming a great selling point that may help them boost sales in the weeks after – and perhaps put an end to the horrible encroachment on Thanksgiving without a single law being passed.

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Confidence

How ya doin’? It might be a simple question from an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, or maybe it’s someone closer who is worried about you and trying not to be obvious about it. But if you’re in the business of gauging consumer confidence, it’s a very serious question. And every month two different groups ask the question of 500 to 3,000 people just to see how we, the consumers of the US, are doin’.

The answer overall is that for all the asking and telling it’s amazingly hard to tell. Both the Conference Board and the University of Michigan / Reuters groups that do the surveys found October and November to be big downers, but the latter tells us there was a big rebound in early December. It’s difficult to say why, so the professionals that have to explain it are scrambling. Like so many important indicators there is both good news and bad. Let’s try to sort it out.

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