Often called the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday was a little less so than in years past. Time reports that Black Friday sales at brick and mortar stores were down almost $1.2 billion from 2014, and Thanksgiving Day sales were also down slightly. At the same time, Fortune reports that “shoppers spent $4.45 billion online on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day” which represents a 14% increase from a year ago. Fortune adds, “The increase came during a week of online sales and promotions leading up to Cyber Monday on Nov. 30, forecasted to be the biggest e-commerce sales day of the year.”
These results should not be unexpected, as the trend to shop online has been growing for several years. In fact, the LA Times reported in July that “Amazon.com surpassed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the world’s biggest retailer… after reporting a surprise jump in profit in the second quarter.
The e-commerce giant said net income was $92 million… in the three months [that] ended June 30.”
It’s not just Amazon or other non-brick and mortar retailers that are seeing increases in online sales. However, one shopping trend that seems have soared is the use of mobile phones. Fortune reports, “one-third of online shoppers used their mobile phones to make purchases and smartphones represented a record 22% share of online sales, up 70% from 2014.”
Despite the trend not being unexpected, it seems that Cyber Monday – which was created as an online alternative to Black Friday – has not only become an extra day for holiday shopping deals, it has in some ways merged with Black Friday. The new alternatives to Black Friday and Cyber Monday are Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cider Monday.
However, Forbes reports if these shopping gimmick days “fail to deliver the kind of consumer spending results that the heavily weighted employment report delivered” then the Federal Reserve Board may not raise interest rates at their December meeting. The pending increase in the interest rate, which has been suppressed during the Great Recession, is meant to normalize the interest rate. Forbes adds, “If you do the math, the answer appears to be no rate hike until sometime next year.”
There would be no need to wonder about the decisions of the board of one central bank if there was no central bank. There would be no need for a central bank if there weren’t legal tender laws, and people were free to use the currencies of their choice. Then there would be no need to wonder if the Federal Reserve Board will continue suppressing interest rates in an attempt to influence economic decisions.
This Christmas, I want honest money!