Blog: Leonie BarrieWill shoppers shop?

Leonie Barrie | 28 November 2008

Retailers are doing everything in their power this year to get shoppers to start spending, with today Black Friday (29 November) kicking off the holiday shopping season. Steep discounts and pre-dawn openings have marked the start of the annual pilgrimage which is estimated to have accounted for around 15% of holiday sales last year.

The term Black Friday is thought to refer to the beginning of the fiscal period in which retailers move into the black or turn a profit for the first time. Of course one day is not going to make or break the fate of most in the retail sector, but there’s a lot riding on fourth quarter performance, and holiday sales as a whole, so it’s going to be an important gauge of people's willingness to spend.

But with many store chains starting their sales even earlier this year, and analysts suggesting shoppers will hold out as long as possible for bigger bargains nearer Christmas, the key question is will Americans shop? And if they shop today, can this be sustained through to Christmas? This is a particularly tough one for clothing sellers, with research seemingly unanimous on the point that spending on apparel is among the first and deepest cuts to be made.


In the money: Retailers pin hopes on Black Friday


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