November 26, 2004

Black Friday at WM

We previously noted that WM will not be releasing today's Black Friday sales data, in a pre-emptive strike against the deluge of doom and gloom stories that will arise should today's sales figures come in below expectations. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that sales will be brisk:

WOODBRIDGE, Va. Nearly one-thousand customers rushed the doors of the Wal-Mart in Woodbridge when they opened at six a-m to take advantage of some specials sales.

Store manger Chris Harris says a main focus for him was rearranging the store to keep traffic moving -- that meant pulling some products from the floor and having customers pick up big items like T-Vs in the parking lot. The strategy comes after the fire marshall closed the doors to new customers for more than an hour on Black Friday last year.

UPDATE:Instapundit notes that anecdotal evidence can be incorrect:

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Nov 27, 2004 Weaker-than-expected holiday shopping forced Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Saturday to cut its projected sales increase for November by more than half, an ominous announcement for retailers as their busiest time of year begins.

The world's largest retailer estimated that the month's sales at U.S. stores open at least a year would be 0.7 percent higher than last November, well below the 2-to-4 percent range that the company had said it expected last week.

The new projection was based on four weeks' worth of sales, from Oct. 30 through Friday, the company said in a statement on its Web site.

Remember though exactly what WM stated two weeks ago:

"People use sales from that one day too much as a barometer of what the whole season is going to be like," said a spokeswoman from Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Arkansas head office.

"We are looking at the whole season and we are cautiously optimistic about that. What we see is that people are shopping closer and closer to the holiday so we don't know that this is a fair barometer."

This move to not release specific data seems to have failed, as people are now pre-judging the Christmas season by WM sales in all of November. The consensus seems to be "a solid--not spectacular--Christmas".

UPDATE 2: OK, people are piling on WM for it's too high forecast of same-store sales increases. Here's one that calls it "ominous for other retailers".

Give it up folks, WM most likely still sold at least $1.5 billion on Black Friday. And the data released do not include Saturday or Sunday. So everybody's judging WM on one single day's worth of sales, which are not broken out from the rest of the month! Since, as this Forbes articles suggests, WM did not have a discount blitz, like $25 DVD players, why is the result shocking? Still, why would a WM strategy of "protecting profits" actually lower profits, like many believe? I'd suggest that WMs profit margins might very well be higher than last year.

But I'm not putting up my money, as other people are. As of 10:45am Monday, 11/29, WM shares are down 3.3% from opening.


Posted by Kevin on November, 26 2004 at 11:37 AM | TrackBack

Comments & Trackbacks
Mary wrote:

Is this anything like the early exit poll data we just endured?!!!

-- November 28, 2004 06:51 PM

Kevin Brancato wrote:

You hit the nail on the head, Mary.

But it's also like the 2000 election: 3 days into a 30 day shopping season, and the result is already being called...

-- November 28, 2004 07:49 PM

Bryan C wrote:

I think Walmart will discover that they should've just released the usual data. If real information isn't available people tend to make stuff up to fill the void.

-- November 28, 2004 10:25 PM

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