Black Friday sales confirmed consumer sentiment drop

Read the full article on Medill Reports

The November drop in the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was confirmed by shoppers’ self-discipline on Black Friday. Like storekeepers nationwide, Chicago retailers saw the day after Thanksgiving as a disappointment.

Nick Santo, owner of Chii Clothing, said people are saving money and shopping at the mall instead of going to boutiques like his. “Sales were not what we expected. It was moderate. There weren’t as many shoppers out and about. It definitely wasn’t what it was last year.”

Julie Schneider, owner of Hubba-Hubba, a women’s boutique said, “people are watching their pennies, they’re shopping with deals in mind. It was about the same as last year.”

The consumer sentiment index, released on the fourth Friday of every month, reflects a poll of 500 consumers on their personal spending confidence. The November index, released last Wednesday, decreased to 67.4 from 70.6 in October, though it was well above the 55.3 in November 2008.

Of those who took the survey, 38 percent volunteered that their views were based on a decrease in their personal income.

“Even more distressing,” said Richard T. Curtin, director of the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, in a press release, “the fewest consumers anticipated income gains and the gains expected were the smallest ever recorded.”

Consumers reported putting off buying large items like furniture and electronics, with 39 percent citing income uncertainty as the reason.

Adolfo Laurenti, deputy chief economist at Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. in Chicago, called it “an improvement from last year,” but he added, “it doesn’t take much to improve over November 2008.”

In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, the number of Internet and store shoppers on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, rose to 195 million from 172 million last year, spending an estimated $41.2 billion
However, the average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago according to the federation.

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