Why anyone would want to try and shop the day after Thanksgiving is beyond me. I am still in a food coma on Friday and couldn't brave the crowds even for the bargains that are offered.
The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday since that has allegedly been the day that retailers finally pushed into the profit column. In recent years the wise American shopper has waited deep into the shopping season before opening their wallets figuring the bargains would get even better as inventories didn't move. H.L. Mencken, an acerbic journalist of long ago, used to like to take off on an old P.T.Barnum saying and wrote "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." While clever (sort of) it is not true. At the end of the day the American consumer is one smart animal.
This year consumer behavior will be a bit different than in past years. The media, says Jeff Stein of Soleil/Stein Research, has "done a fairly good job of preparing consumers for limited quantities of must-have items." Retailers are entering the season with the leanest inventories in years. There will be fewer bargains as the season progresses. Jeff feels the retailing community has collectively decided to sacrifice potential year-end sales for better margins now. Sales may be "pulled forward" since the intelligent consumer will figure out the better bargains will be had early on and the availability of merchandise later in the shopping season will be questionable.
Jeff feels "functionality, durability and practicality" will be the operative words for the shopper. With debt levels still elevated and credit availability being curtailed the bargain hunter in all of us will come out. In a recent report entitled "Holiday Sales Preview: Clip Coupons and Shop Early" he lists his "Best Bets" to be Collective Brands (PSS: buy rated: recent price $20, target price $25), JoAnn Stores (JAS: buy rated: recent price $33: target $42), TJX Companies (TJX: buy rated: recent price $39: target $45), and Big Lots (BIG: buy rated: recent price $24: target $32.)