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Early Black Friday Figures Not Reliable Indicator of Actual Sales

Nov 26, 2015 9:53 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Early Black Friday figures claiming to signal how well the holiday period is progressing should be ignored as initial numbers fail to accurately predict the actual sales, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

First round of news stories on Thursday evening or Friday are driven “almost entirely by anecdote” such as length of queues and isolated interviews, Ben Casselman, the chief economics writer at the data website, said in a note November 25. Updates on Sunday and Monday tend to contradict each other and are disproven by subsequent official statistics.

“It’s difficult, maybe even impossible, to produce reliable figures that quickly,” Casselman wrote. “It takes the government weeks to produce even preliminary data on sales, jobs or other major economic indicators, and those numbers are revised as more complete information becomes available.”
Infographic: The Billion-Dollar Holiday | Statista

National Retail Foundation (NRF), for instance, conducts its annual survey before the Thanksgiving weekend and asks respondents how they expect to shop, Casselman wrote. Last year, the NRF said sales dropped 11 percent from a year ago, but final numbers from the U.S. Commerce Department showed November and December sales to be up about 4 percent, according to the the data site.

In 2014, ShopperTrak, an analytics company, said in-store sales slid 0.5 percent, while MasterCard using its payments network claimed retail sales excluding gasoline rose 3.6 percent in the same month.

“Those sources aren’t all measuring exactly the same thing, but it’s a bad sign that they’re pointing in such totally different directions,” Casselman wrote. Furthermore, sales over the weekend would not tell us how successful the entire holiday season will be for retailers, Casselman asserted.

“The weekend is tremendously important for retailers, but in terms of it being an indicator for how the season is going to perform, it’s not the best bellwether,” FiveThirtyEight.com cited NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis Allen as saying.
Tags: Amazon, black friday, cyber monday, Rapaport News
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