The stock market closed at 1:00 p.m. Friday so Americans everywhere could head out into the gridlock and high tension of post-Thanksgiving Day holiday shopping. Admit it, even your best Foolish instincts get tweaked on this weekend. Part of you thinks you should just stay on the couch because you can't burn much money that way. Then another part of you thinks you could save money if you hit the stores now for big deals.
Don't go out there unprepared. We've got tips and inside information all over The Motley Fool. First off, in today's Take, plan your attack by finding out if this really is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Then learn what retailers are doing to rope you in.
After that, find out how to save money shopping online this year. Then get the lowdown from our Community on the deals as well as the frauds on eBay (you'll need a trial for our Community to read it -- but it's free, which is cheaper than anything else you're going to get this holiday season).
If all else fails, you can always just shop FoolMart, where satisfaction is guaranteed.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- The Biggest Shopping Day?
- Shop Here... Please!
- Quote of Note
- Quick Takes: UAL, Sealed Air, Hasbro, North Pole Enterprises
- And Finally...
The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, right? Certainly that's the conventional wisdom, but like "It don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime," it turns out to be dead wrong. For the last six years, the post-Turkey mall smash isn't even second, third, or fourth.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, these are the top three shopping days for the last six years:
Fri. After Year 1 2 3 Thanks'g 2001 Sat. 12/22 Sat. 12/15 Fri. 12/21 No. 6 2000 Sat. 12/23 Fri. 12/22 Sat. 12/16 No. 5 1999 Sat. 12/18 Thu. 12/23 Wed. 12/22 No. 8 1998 Sat. 12/19 Wed. 12/23 Tue. 12/22 No. 8 1997 Sat. 12/20 Mon. 12/22 Tue. 12/23 No. 7 1996 Sat. 12/21 Mon. 12/23 Sat. 12/14 Below 10!
This certainly bolsters the case that most retailers are made or broken each fourth quarter -- except more data reveals that a huge chunk of buying occurs in the fifteen days after Christmas. The joy of statistics is that they allow many different interpretations. Perhaps we have become a nation of procrastinators, rushed to distraction and unable to focus until pressed. Or maybe we have learned to play a high stakes game of chicken with retailers over our loved ones' affections -- holding out until either the stores put everything on sale or we blink.
For those investors who follow retail, the ICSC's website provides strong nourishment. It projects, tracks and analyzes consumer non-auto retail spending patterns this way and that, up and down, in and out. It also provides a few fun facts, such as Santa arrives at most malls on November 16th. Who knew?
How are retailers luring us into their lairs this year? Read on.
Online retailers have been killing our e-mail boxes with kindness leading up to the holiday season. The relentless slew of bigheartedness includes free shipping, deep discounts, and generous credits towards other product groups, in the case of Amazon.com
Heck, even churches have started accepting plastic if you're short on cash when the collection plate comes around.
But it's the tactics used by bricks-and-mortar stores battling for foot traffic that have caught our eye. If you happened to flick on the tube for even a moment yesterday, you might have noticed that they're leaving nothing to chance. Stores like KB Toys and some major department stores opened at the crack of dawn -- literally 5:00 a.m. As long as you're out, you may as well stop in at Gap Inc.'s
In perhaps the boldest move to lure trendy young thangs and their allowance into stores, teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch
Chances are the sales tactics will only get racier. Though Thanksgiving is the official kick-off of the holiday shopping bender, the last week before Christmas is actually the busiest for retailers, accounting for one third of all holiday sales last year, reports the International Council of Shopping Centers.
While the sales prospects this year don't exactly look grim, they certainly aren't a slam-dunk. The National Retail Federation predicts total holiday retail sales will show the weakest increase (4%) since 1997.
Wonder what those Abercrombie & Fitch models will be wearing on Dec. 24.
Quote of Note
"I like buying companies that can be run by monkeys -- because one day they will be." -- Peter Lynch
Skies grew darker for United Airlines parent UAL
The British division of Hasbro
The U.S. stock markets closed today little changed, but October and November represented the largest two-month gain in 27 years, according to Bloomberg. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up about 18% during that period, and the S&P 500 climbed 15%.
Finally, shares of North Pole Enterprises (Ticker: SANTA) rose 10% as President and CEO Kris Kringle predicted another busy December. Many investors are still calling for Kringle's resignation, however, as the jolly bearded fellow still refuses to work from January through November.
Today on Fool.com: Rick Munarriz gets circumspect about the market and the month of November.... How can you tell if a company's increased earnings per share isn't just due to the company buying back shares of its stock?.... You know you could do better with your money than buying that PlayStation. Our Foolanthropy campaign is in full swing.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim