Monday, November 29, 2004

holiday shopping

Two bits of good news out there on the economic front: This weekend's holiday shopping was near record setting, and even better, Wal-Mart had one of it worst seasons yet.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Wal-Mart on Saturday took the unusual step of slashing its prediction for November sales growth, citing disappointing holiday sales at its stores. Wal-Mart predicted that November same-store sales in the U.S. would grow by only 0.7% over a year ago, far less than the 2% to 4% rise the retailer had expected."
This from a company that tried to seem labor friendly by allowing Unions...but only in China. I guess it is the least you can do for the people that make all your stuff.

The Nation quotes Andrew Rothman, "a former US diplomat who is now the China country head for CLSA Emerging Markets, an investment bank, says, 'Most multinational companies of any size in China have a union presence, and I've not heard of it causing a problem for anybody.' That's little wonder, because the federation unit at most companies confines itself to such things as organizing outings for workers or, less often, administering workers' health or unemployment insurance payments." Seems like the same old same old, find a way to push the cost of insurance for your workers (health etc) onto the workers or taxpayer, as long as it isn't Wal-Mart's bottom line.

Do you ever notice how the workers at Wal-Mart seem so depressed, even when they are smiling and saying "Welcome to Wal-Mart!"? This is why. For a nice contrast, go to CostCo: all the employees are jolly because they get way higher pay, health insurance, etc. there. And guess what, CostCo is doing great. You don't need to screw your workers to post profits.

But back to the first point: Holiday shopping. According to the Journal: "Historically, the post-Thanksgiving weekend isn't especially strong for online spending because so many people are out in stores. The busiest shopping day on the Web, according to Verisign, is the Monday after Thanksgiving, when consumers get back to their high-speed, broadband Internet connections at the office." American workers are so efficient these days that they can get more work done, and still use the boss' fast internet connection to order gifts for their relatives in Toledo.

Here's a cool chart via the Journal and Visa, on how much more people spent this year just with their Visa over last Thanksgiving Weekend:

Interestingly, the big rush this year was again discounted electronics, but nothing else drew in consumers. There is no talking elmo or anything like that (is elmo considered an electronic?) this year. It seems people want iPods, DVD players, DVDs, and TVs for Christmas and not clothes.

This has another happy effect for me: stores like GAP will do poorly. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend with friends and family, I know I did. Now I just need to get some sleep, refill the barren fridge, and study my brains out until my last final.

No comments: