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The Washington Post offers this assessment of the Thanksgiving weekend and how consumer purchasing figures are not heartening for a robust holiday season in the nation's stores.

"Fewer Americans shopped during Black Friday weekend, and those who did spent less than they did a year ago," the Post writes.  "It’s the latest example of how the pandemic has upended consumer habits and created new challenges for retailers.

"Roughly 186 million shoppers purchased something online or in-store from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, down from 190 million a year ago, the National Retail Federation said Tuesday. Shoppers spent an average of $312, a 14 percent drop from $362 in 2019."

Indeed, the spreading out of holiday sales, with many companies beginning them as early as October, almost certainly contributed to the weekend's slowdown:  "In-store shopping fell 55 percent on Thanksgiving and 37 percent on Black Friday, compared with a year ago."

And, though "e-commerce sales notched new highs, online sales growth was not as pronounced as analysts had expected. Americans spent a record $10.8 billion online on Cyber Monday, up 15 percent from last year, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, according to Adobe Analytics. The group, which tracks online sales at 80 of the nation’s 100 largest retailers, had forecast growth between 15 and 35 percent."

"It’s going to be a tough holiday season for most retailers,” Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research, tells the Post, adding, "This is a very bifurcated recovery.  The savings rate is high, but evictions are back on the table and there’s no stimulus money on the horizon. For many people, this is not going to be a pretty Christmas."

KC's View:

I honestly think we won't really know anything until the holidays are over … some people are going to wait for the discounts to get even deeper, and some are going to hold off to see what the pandemic does and what the economic impact will be, and some will be in a position not to worry about any of this.  It'll only be when we can look back and have some perspective that we'll really have a sense of short-term performance and long-term implications for the retail sector.