What REALLY just happened on Black Friday?

#CyberMonday is here, and so is an avalanche of third-party data suggesting the Grinch stole Christmas.

What that means: investors may lump the majority of retail stocks together, and send them lower (after nice gains on Black Friday's shortened trading session) on fear of nasty holiday earnings guidance updates in the first week of December.

In some cases the unloading of the stocks is justifiable, in many others the fear-mongering will overshadow important, positive trends from Thanksgiving Day right on through the weekend. Here we revisit our "Five Things to Watch on Black Friday" piece from Nov. 25 to determine what REALLY happened in the malls and discount centers.


What we were watching: Disappearing merchandise in stores

Disney's Frozen dolls were the hot holiday item, especially at J.C. Penney's Disney shop in shop.
Source: Brian Sozzi
Disney's Frozen dolls were the hot holiday item, especially at J.C. Penney's Disney shop in shop.

Original thought: Were new buy online, ship merchandise from store services at Macy's, JCPenney, Target, Best Buy, and Home Depot likely to cause out of stocks in physical stores.

Update: No out of stocks to report at JCPenney, Macy's, Target, Best Buy, and Home Depot other than the typical doorbuster deals. The items that were consistently out of stock, such as Disney's Frozen dolls, the Motorola 360 smartwatch, and select Michael Kors handbag styles at Macy's were more a result of strong in-store traffic.

Read MoreNo way Black Friday sales fell 11 percent: Analyst

But, there is a potentially financially devastating issue to now watch for closely following Best Buy's temporary webstore outage on Black Friday afternoon. That is: Do major retailers have the infrastructure to handle tons of new services being created to meet the needs of an on-demand world? A couple examples of the newfound tech complexity included:

1.Buy merchandise online, have it shipped from store.

2.Buy merchandise online, have it picked up from store.

3.Same-day delivery.

4.Real-time price matching inside of a store.

5.The ability to buy merchandise through Twitter's "buy now" button.

Don't expect Best Buy's site malfunction, due to overwhelming traffic, to be the last one this holiday season. A few final thoughts: Target told me at midnight on Thanksgiving Day via email that online sales were strong and big box retailers price-matching one another hints at Amazon's once dominant position being under attack from the old guard in retail.

What we were watching: What customers were buying at Apple stores

Original thought: Small envelopes containing gift cards leaving Apple's glass storefronts in the mall meant the Apple Watch flying off the shelf when it's released early 2015.

Update: Unfortunately, it was hard to determine if Apple gift cards were in the hands of folks because Beats by Dre headphones and their bright boxes were blinding as they left the store. Moreover, this doorbuster item (a rarity for the Beats brand) was nearly out of stock at Walmart, Best Buy and Target by the morning of Black Friday. What Apple has done by discounting Beats by Dre's lower priced models this holiday season is make the brand truly mainstream, setting up the masses for years of iPhone-like hardware upgrades. It also raises the potential of a person signing up for the Beats streaming music service for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

Read MoreThe hottest gadget gifts for holiday 2014

Looking out five years, it will likely be proven that Apple stole Beats for a mere $3 billion.

Other than all things Beats, healthy demand for the elegant Motorola 360 smartwatch at Best Buy suggests that people deem a smartwatch as useful to their everyday lives. That bodes well for the Apple Watch upon its eventual arrival.

What We Were Watching: Will JCPenney Hit its Mark?

Crowds at J.C. Penney were surprisingly strong on Black Thanksgiving.
Brian Sozzi | CNBC
Crowds at J.C. Penney were surprisingly strong on Black Thanksgiving.

Original thought: The department-store retailer made a huge inventory wager in basic apparel, items such as Levi's jeans, HanesBrands socks, St. John's Bay sweaters, and private label fleeces. If this merchandise did not sell through at pre-planned promotions on Black Friday, JCPenney could have fallen short of its fourth quarter same-store sales and margin plans.

Update: Comments from CEO Mike Ullman on Black Friday confirmed the company's improved in-stock levels and promotional strategies hit the mark. According to Ullman, the holiday season started "strong," aided by a "surge" of customers at the company's 5pm Thanksgiving Day opening.

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JCPenney's successful early holiday season sales trends sheds light on the following areas:

  • Lower gasoline and heating bills are freeing up people to buy more discretionary products.
  • Yes, the housing market recovery remains intact. A key aspect to Ullman's comments was the better demand in its home department (11 percent of annual sales). Expect those demand trends to also be evidenced in the holiday numbers from TJ Maxx's HomeGoods division and home gadget maker Jarden.

What we were watching: New offerings at Starbucks

Original thought: Starbucks elevated the quality of its holiday gift items (gift card photos, designer inspired mugs, and arrival of the Starbucks for Life card) and broadened the assortment of the merchandise in its stores. The goal: Pique the interest of those out and about as weak mall, and off-mall, traffic has plagued Starbucks for about a year.

Also we were interested in the performance of Macy's new same-day delivery program, as it would offer insights into how Starbucks' 2015 launch of a similar service would operate in periods of high demand.

Read MoreLook out! Avoid these holiday-shopping traps

Update: This is where one should put stock in the Debbie Downer third-party sales data from the National Retail Federation and ShopperTrak. Given the sales drop off on Black Friday weekend, and voracious appetite to shop online on Thanksgiving Day, Starbucks may not have moved as much holiday merchandise (and food, etc.) as it anticipated.

As for same-day delivery, Macy's chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren told me via phone on Friday morning "so far so good" on the performance of its same-day delivery service. The service is available in eight major markets for the Macy's brand, and four markets for Bloomingdales.

What we were watching: Overstocked shelves at Sears and Kmart

Foot traffic was slow at both Sears and Kmart to kick off the holiday season, leading to some Sunday clearance sales.
Source: Brian Sozzi
Foot traffic was slow at both Sears and Kmart to kick off the holiday season, leading to some Sunday clearance sales.

Original thought: Sears' competitors in mall across the country — JCPenney and Macy's — have significantly improved their in-store merchandising of apparel, stock levels of key holiday items, and established gift centers featuring unique merchandise that is often found in the aisles of Brookstone. Best Buy has added more appliance shop in shops. Did Sears and Kmart have any chance of winning the dollars of holiday shoppers?

Update: The only themes emanating out of both brands from Thanksgiving Day's opening at 6am for Kmart until Sunday? Where was everyone, and where is all of the unsold apparel merchandise headed? A Kmart worker remarked to me on Thanksgiving Day morning, "It oddly hasn't been busy." An employee at Sears shared on Saturday afternoon, "Things have been quiet." Sears Holding Corporation did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Bottom line: JCPenney's return to relevance. Macy's ongoing sales-floor reinvention to include unique shops from Finish Line and Nike. Target's re-emerging cool factor partially explains why Sears is on a path to unwrap a bah-humbug fourth-quarter.

Commentary by Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi.

Disclosure: Neither Brian Sozzi nor Belus Capital Advisors own shares of any of the stocks mentioned here.