There’s nothing worse than having to fill a newspaper or broadcast over Thanksgiving weekend. Nothing happens in the US. Well, nothing happens that any beat reporter is covering, which is what the US press means when it says nothing happens. Of course, the US consumer being the US consumer, things happening in the rest of the world aren’t of any interest. Nonetheless the media still must fill all that space with something. This is why every year we get something like:
Preliminary data showed welcome and unexpectedly strong shopping figures for the Black Friday weekend.
This could have been written in 2006 (“The nation’s retailers had a strong start to the holiday shopping season, according to results announced Saturday by a national research group that tracks sales at mall-based stores.“), 2005 (“Steep discounts, enticing rebates and expanded hours drew hordes to the nation’s retailing meccas Friday, and merchants saw hopeful signs that consumer spending will be lively for the holidays.“), 2004 (“In an early sign that buying will be strong this year, Visa USA said Saturday that the total of its credit and debit card transactions was more than $4.1 billion, up 15.5 percent from the same day last year.“), etc.
Just as surely as a Cubs collapse, these stories are followed by stories later in the week and/or month which say
“But the hot streak cooled down over the weekend as stores returned to their regular hours and promotions were scaled back.”
The truth is that Black Friday sales numbers are as accurate as sheep entrails when it comes to predicting the holiday season’s retail sales. The only real news here is that anyone actually pays attention to these numbers.
Bad editor! No latte for you!