Holiday Sales: A Miracle On 34th Street?

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Santa is for suckers. At least, that is the conventional wisdom

The 2008 holiday season was supposed to be the worst in years, or, perhaps decades. Analysts have forecast retail sales to be down 1% or 2%. Pessimists say those numbers are way off. Even e-commerce, which has grown at double digits for several years, is flat.

It turns out that the first official day of the shopping season may not have been a bust, at least when put against expectations.

According to Reuters, "ShopperTrak, which measures customer traffic, said on Saturday that Black Friday sales rose 3 percent to $10.6 billion." Many of the people who made it to the strip malls and cheesy shopping centers said they were disappointed with the deals. They plan to return in a week or two when merchants are really desperate.

As things stand, the notion that Christmas 2008 would burn to the ground may be premature.

Douglas A. McIntyre