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Opening Arguments

The great blackout

Don't look now, but I think Black Friday's time has come and gone:

Even after doling out discounts on electronics and clothes, retailers struggled to entice shoppers to Black Friday sales events, putting pressure on the industry as it heads into the final weeks of the holiday season.

Spending tumbled an estimated 11 percent over the weekend, the Washington-based National Retail Federation said yesterday. And more than 6 million shoppers who had been expected to hit stores never showed up.

Consumers were unmoved by retailers’ aggressive discounts and longer Thanksgiving hours, raising concern that signs of recovery in recent months won’t endure. The NRF had predicted a 4.1 percent sales gain for November and December — the best performance since 2011. Still, the trade group cast the latest numbers in a positive light, saying it showed shoppers were confident enough to skip the initial rush for discounts. …

Yeah, right, consumers are just "skipping the initial rush for discounts." We'll see. Our weekly poll question is "How much do you plan to spend on Christmas?" So far, "About the same as last year" is winning, but I suspect the final vote total will push "Less than last year" ahead. This is the shakiest damn recovery in most people's lifetimes. People are starting to realize that bargains come and go. Real value is what lasts,

And the merchants really did it to themselves. "Black Friday" became "Black Thursday" and in a lot of places it was "Black Holiday Week." Get ready for Black November. Consumers are catching on. Retailers desperately need good holiday sales, so the longer the buyers hold out, the better prices the sellers will offer.

And factor online sales into all of this. Amazon.com has probably changed my lifestyle more than anything. I still treasure a visit to the bookstore now and again, but my serious reading needs are just a click away. If they get a good grocery service online in Fort Wayne, I could seriously consider never setting foot in a store again.

Oh, and "Cyber Monday" is an even more bogus concept than Black Friday. Just shut up about it, OK?

Posted in: Current events