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2014 Black Friday Analysis

This year, Black Friday sales dropped 11% to $50.9B from last year's $57.4B based on a preliminary survey released yesterday by the National Retail Federation.

Sales dipped despite many stores opening earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day.

Online sales also dipped. Based on the same survey from the National Retail Federation, online shoppers spent an average of $380.95 over the four-day weekend. 6.4% less than the average $407.02 spent last year.

The Black Friday sales' underachievement is traceable to two key factors, among many others.

1. Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown sent the nation in uproar. Logically and systematically, people protested the case's outcome by boycotting Black Friday shopping. Some of those lost dollars may be made up as the holiday season goes on. But for now, the national sentiment is anti-establishment.

2. Gratitude. Thanksgiving, despite its origins, is a time we set aside to give thanks. Shopping, especially Black Friday shopping, is becoming more associated with greed. The day after we reflect on how grateful we are, we bust retailer's doors wide open to accumulate more. Stores chase profits. Instead of spending time with their families workers have to punch the clock. 

I do not believe the aforementioned factors are the only two that kept would-be spenders from spending. But even as a pro-business economist, we cannot overlook the current mood of the nation nor the importance of people and their families. After all, economics, business, and finance are all about people.


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