Black Friday study offers sliver of hope


Consumer Reports says that despite forecasts of a bleak holiday shopping season, turnout at the nation’s retail outlets on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is expected to be up 5% from 2007. And consumers say they still have a lot of shopping to do. In fact, 26% of consumers are planning to brave the crowds on 11/29/08, compared to only 21% in 2007. Only 3% of all consumers have completed their shopping, and only 38% have even started – that compares to 43% early starters in 2007. If you’re looking to reach Black Friday shoppers, Consumer Reports says the 18-34 demo will be the one overpopulating the malls. 85% are said to be on the hunt for electronics like video games, iPods and MP3s.

The fear, of course, is that shoppers may be out and about, but won’t have as much to spend as usual. "Black Friday is the quintessential American shopping day," said Tod Marks, senior project editor, Consumer Reports Tightwad Tod Blog. "And no matter how dismal the economy, you can count on the stores being filled to capacity. The big question this year, however, is how much are consumers going to cut back. Retailers are holding their collective breath and keeping their fingers crossed."

One prime example of current trends can be found in the big-ticket flat screen TV arena. CR says about 23% of consumers are in the market, but many are now considering smaller, less-costly models, and many more are considering holding off until after the holidays in anticipation of price reductions.

RBR/TVBR observation: If retailers can at get people in the door, they at least have a chance. And broadcasters can get them in the door – make sure they remember that.