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The shortest holiday shopping season possible: Morning Brief

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

Friday, November 29, 2019

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It matters for retailers, maybe not the economy

The shortest holiday shopping season possible has begun.

Today is Black Friday and because of where Thanksgiving fell on the calendar there are just 26 days between now and Christmas, making this the shortest-possible holiday shopping season for retailers.

But this is 2019, meaning the complete and total commercialization of the holiday season has been internalized by consumers and retailers alike.

The deals at many retailers started earlier this month because consumption won’t be held back by arbitrary calendar delineations.

And Wall Street economists also count the “holiday season” as the final two months of the year, meaning the quick turnaround from Thanksgiving to Christmas shouldn’t impact a consumer that remains the backbone of this economy.

Economists at Oxford Economics, for instance, expect holiday sales will rise 4.8% this year, a full percentage point higher than the average holiday sales bump we’ve seen during the post-crisis expansion. This would also more than double the 2.1% sales increase seen during 2018’s holiday period that coincided with the market’s worse fourth quarter decline since the financial crisis.

People carry shopping bags from Century 21 during a Black Friday. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Oxford says solid holiday sales should, “reflect a number of tailwinds that now support consumer outlays. Among them are elevated confidence, healthy job creation, solid wage growth, a large savings buffer, moderate inflation and elevated household wealth.”

But this doesn’t mean that retailers are punting on Black Friday deals.

Research from Kantar Retail IQ suggests that 37% of all shoppers plan to get some shopping done today; 21% of shoppers are also interested in Black Friday deals regardless of what is on their list.

There is, in other words, still an opportunity to win shoppers even in an environment where everyone knows the drill and nothing really seems new.

By Myles Udland, reporter and co-anchor of The Final Round. Follow him @MylesUdland

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What to watch today

Today will be a shortened trading session with markets closing at 1 p.m. ET.

Yahoo Finance Editor-at-large Brian Sozzi will release the latest Black Friday update at about 11:30 a.m. ET. Check out his Thanksgiving Day coverage.

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