Even among its adherents, the ability of Black Friday sales to provide a quick indicator is being diluted by retailers spreading out the season. This is read as a sign of nervousness that weekend buying may not clear inventories. Retailers use the run-up to offer discounts on select items rather than a flat sale on a specific date. Online purchases capture consumer behaviour at a more granular level and serve as a better dipstick. Black Friday sales strategies – how deep the discounts will be – are devised using these data sets. Online sales this year have been signalling caution that initial estimates of US festival spending would seem to corroborate.
The findings are a bit more sombre in Europe where a relatively trenchant inflation is preying on the minds of buyers. Of course, Black Friday sales are of no use as an indicator of consumption in Asia but work as a guide for export demand. Makers of clothes, toys and electronics use it to plan inventories for the last quarter of the year. They have some cheer ahead.