There's an interesting thing happening with Black Friday retail these days.
Consumer shopping in November, especially around Black Friday, matters less.
But consumer stocks in November matter more.
That's what the data say. First, if you look at the actual impact and relevance of Black Friday, there's a lot of numbers pointing to its decreased relevance in the overall shopping season. Economists have noticed declining focus on Black Friday sales in recent years, and retailers actually are making a point of moving away from the tradition. Even when the numbers show big shopping days, you can hardly trust them.
Consumers have many other options now: Shopping online and on mobile is driving consumers out of the stores. Also, the Christmas buying season has stretched in both directions, starting earlier and ending later. Data from fashion site Polyvore show that each year, consumers start looking for gifts earlier and earlier. This year, the searches picked up in early September.
On the other hand, data from Cardylytics show that procrastinators are the biggest shopping group — and the fastest growing. They have pushed the retail season until basically the moments before Dec. 25. The strength of fast and cheap shipping (we're looking at you, Amazon) has helped create that dynamic.
With all this shopping stretched from September to late December, and then shifted online instead of in-store, November retail sales have had less of an impact. The month made up 8.6 percent of annual retail sales in 2014, but that's down 0.2 of a percentage point since 2012, according to data from the U.S. Census. Both September and October have increased their share of sales in the past two years.
But that's not been true for consumer stocks. If you go back over the years, you can see that consumer stocks have outperformed the overall market on a consistent basis in November. It appears for this month of the year, retail company shares perform better than retail company stores.
It will be a trend worth watching for again as all the news around Black Friday starts to come into play. The key thing to remember is that this one day's worth of sales has become less of a predicting factor to the overall season, but that hasn't stopped the stocks from soaring.