Charlie Cook On Air: Black Friday Sales

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• November 30, 2012

K-Mart and Sears had 32-inch TV sets for $97. Verizon had Samsung tablets for $99. Best Buy was selling laptops for under $200.

This year Black Friday either set records for spending or was below expectations. I have read each analysis and I don’t understand what either side is saying. According to one report, 44% of the total US population shopped Friday-Monday. I believe this is a low estimate as at least 50% of the entire population was at the Partridge Creek Mall in Macomb, Michigan on Friday. It took me until Saturday to find a parking space.

Americans spent $59 BILLION dollars over the weekend in retail sales.

Here is where the numbers get crossed up: There was either a 13% increase in total weekend sales over last year, or sales were down from a 16% growth last year over 2010.

There was a 3.5% increase in the number of store visits, but there was a 1.8% drop in revenue from those visits.

Well yeah, they were pooped out from looking for a parking space. I get that.

What scares me the most is that the average amount consumers plan to spend on gifts is $423. I did that before lunch Friday and I have 15 more people to buy for. Which means a lot of you should be looking for Christmas cards this year instead of Xboxes or fruit baskets.

The website www.blackfriday.com listed hundreds of stores and sales for last week. I browsed the coupons and the sales but failed to see one ad for music or radios. I know how hard it is to find a radio that doesn’t also include an iPod/iPhone connection.

After the east coast got hammered by Sandy, I went looking for a “simple” battery radio to throw in the car this winter. But they didn’t have it at Target, Walmart or Sam’s. And trying to find a radio in Radio Shack is like trying to find Victoria in Victoria’s Secret. She’s not there. I’ve looked.

We’ll get some numbers this week on music sales. I suspect that Red is going to be under a lot of Christmas trees. There is a new Toby Keith album this season, as well as new music from Jamey Johnson, Jason Aldean, and Jerrod Niemann, and Christmas CDs from Blake Shelton, Lady A and Scotty McCreey.

I listen to a lot of country radio each week and I didn’t hear any mention of  ”Pick up some country music while you’re out shopping on Black Friday.” I didn’t hear ads about stocking stuffers while 150 million Americans were out shopping in stores or on-line this past Monday.

I don’t know anything about marketing hard goods to the American consumer, but it seems to me that getting them in the store is half the challenge. If the big guys are going to do that for you, led by the news media and the culture in this country to not be left behind, why not put a bug in their ear?

There is nothing really hot this year. I went online and looked at some sites and these are what they considered the top ten gifts for 2012:

1. iPhone Virtual Video Glasses
2. Atari iPad Arcade Console
3. Air Guitar with Laser Strings
4. Remee Mind Control Dreaming Mask
5. Retro iPhone Rotary-style Headset
6. Fog Ring Blaster
7. NFL Logo Toasters (Creates team logo on the toast.)
8. Beer Box Cowboy Hat
9. iPhone Pinball Magic Console
10. Polly the Insulting Electronic Parrot

I seriously doubt this list’s credibility, but I would like to see the Logo Toaster in action.

There are at least four goofy things on this list, though if the mind control mask works I am going to buy one. Why can’t we add a battery powered radio and a six pack of country music CDs to the list?

Heck, radio should be running ads for radios everyday. The brick and mortar stores should remind the guy with $423 in his pocket that he can get a half dozen CDs and knock off half his list… before getting himself a Polly the Insulting Electronic Parrot.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)

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About the Author

Sherod Robertson is President and Owner of MusicRow Enterprises. He oversees all operations and develops strategic initiatives for MusicRow magazine, RowFax, and MusicRow's CountryBreakout chart. Robertson previously served as Director of Finance of Arista Records after beginning his career as Vice President of Finance and CFO at Reunion Records.

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