Black Friday. It’s worth $59B in sales this year, if you believe the projections. More importantly, it’s a financial and cultural reference point, the day when the Holiday Shopping Season officially starts.
But Black Friday is really a state of mind.
The psychology of the day is what matters most, as the excitement and crowds fueled by a small number of loss leaders gets people to spend far more than they otherwise should on other not-so-great deals in the stores. That’s how shoppers are manipulated by a system that sees them as nothing more than pawns to be used up on a game where the take on one day is really just a way of keeping score.
The news whacked Wall Street and set off a slide of 1.4%. WalMart, the biggest retailer, reported slow growth and earnings below expectations for the second quarter. “The retail environment remains challenging in the U.S. and our international markets, as customers are cautious in their spending,” according to Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley. Should we be worried about it?
Probably not. While a turnaround consumer spending would be the quickest and easiest way to goose the economy and put people back to work, it shouldn’t come at the expense of fundamentals such as repairing household finances. A little caution now could make for a stronger economy in the long run – and that picture is continuing to look a bit brighter.