Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Have A Happy New Year, Some Say It Was Probably A Good Retail Season

Astute reader HV from West Hollywood, California, writes to say that, contrary to the doomy-gloomy Paul Krugman and much of the media, retails sales have actually been good:

The big item really is that it is the RISE in retail sales that is the smallest in 30 years, not retail sales. Retail sales set a record. The so-called reporting by the usual suspects was the usual "Bush stinks and the economy is in trouble" variety. Only if you factor in an inflation indicator, something that is missing from all past data, do you see a very small shrinkage. If you then factor in the quite remarkable online sales ($2 billion plus) sales were great.

The WaPo ran a snide article a week or so ago about online sellers and their rotten stuff for rotten people. When I checked some sites listed I found that many were sold out, couldn't fill orders til well into next year, and had merchandise that retailers would not take. One woman has made a killing selling duct tape purses and wallets, another seller is a specialty seller who sells the most unique merchandise ever who would only succeed if he could hit a mass market of millions on the cheap, which he has done since 30% of what he has is sold out.

The days of buyers on the take in large retail chains, exacting bribes, advertising for the stores, and exploiting small start ups in general are over. This Christmas may mark a major change in how retailers conduct their businesses.

Various statistics have been passed around concerning this holiday season's retail results. My understanding has been that some of them inlude at least some on-line sales results. But is it possible that reports of a bad bad retail season have more to do with reporters and some economists just not keeping up with the American consumer - or just not doing their homework?

We should know by February!

UPDATE: Reports of tentative big increases in on-line retail sales: here and here.

Reference from astute reader HV.

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