Thursday, December 03, 2009

Holiday Spending

I shorted the US dollar against an unnamed currency before Thanksgiving because my economic spidey senses started tingling, saying that "Black Friday" sales were going to be disappointing. I then saw this chart over at my ex-flame's place;

The title was "Happier Spenders" claiming online sales have gone up, suggesting this is somehow good news.
But now you see why The Economist is my ex-flame. The chart does not show that. Matter of fact, all it shows to me is that there is a natural progression to people buying more stuff online and that little blip in 2009 over 2008 is not a sign of happiness or recovery.
Methinks me shorting of the US will prove wise.


Hydrick said...

I'm guessing the 2009 line ends up around 2006 levels. Barring another stimulus (which Obama wouldn't get put together and passed in time to screw up Christmas), the economy seems starting to stabilize, but it'll be a while before recovery while people make sure the government is going to screw the playing field.

In the meantime, poeple are going to be going cheaper for Christmas, doubling up gifts with stuff they were going to have to buy anyways (i.e. things needed for the house, clothes for the kids, etc.). No sense wasting money these days, so buy what you need and then just wrap it up and call it a gift.

PeppermintPanda said...

Much like how news reports are avoiding looking into seasonality of house-purchases or employment statistics, the act of telling people about increased online shopping while avoiding giving any information to compare the increase in online shopping to the decrease in brick and mortar stores is a purposeful attempt to mislead you.

On top of that, one of the driving factors for me personally to shop online is that it is far cheaper; and more people giving up the convenience and immediateness of shopping locally to save money can hardly be seen as a big boost for long-term spending habits. As an example, earlier this year I decided I was going to buy a treadmill and I watched deals online until I found something worthwhile. After a couple of months, I noticed that the Sears outlet store online had a treadmill marked down from $2500 (MSRP) to roughly $1100 and I thought that it was a pretty good deal but I still waited; about a month later, the Sears outlet inventory was so high they offered a coupon for 40% off (practically) everything and that convinced me to buy the treadmill for approximately $700.

To simplify my point, the fact that buying a treadmill online helped push my total online spending this year to new highs can hardly be seen as a good sign being that I was willing to spend (roughly) half what I was willing to spend a couple of years ago on items; and the retailer (probably) lost money on my purchase in order to make that sale.