“Black Friday” Was Flecked With Shades of Gray

The biggest shopping day of the year? Still feels like a recession.

NBC 10 reports that stores opening on Thanksgiving Day this year may have cut into their “Black Friday” sales.

A record 141 million people are expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend that ends Sunday, up from last year’s 137 million, according to the results of a survey of nearly 4,500 shoppers conducted for The National Retail Federation.

But total spending is expected to fall for the first time ever since the trade group began tracking it in 2006, according to the survey that was released on Sunday. Over the four days, spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion.

At least a dozen major retailers _ most of them for the first time _ opened on Thanksgiving instead of on Black Friday, which is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and other retailers said on Friday that Thanksgiving crowds were strong.

But the early start appeared to pull sales forward. Black Friday sales fell 13.2 percent from the previous year, according to Chicago-based technology firm ShopperTrak. But combined spending over Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose 2.3 percent to $9.74 billion compared with a year ago.

Overall, the takeaway is that retailers feel like they’re still in a recession, and whose is to say they’re wrong? If people are afraid to spend their money, they do’t spend their money. If they don’t spend their money, the money doesn’t circulate back into the economy. That’s not the definition of a recession, but it’s close.