Holiday Shopping Brings Positive Market Sentiment

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Pre-market futures are up big to start the first full trading week after Thanksgiving. Healthy upward trends in holiday shopping for Black Friday, etc. demonstrated the consumer is still pulling his or her weight, and solid green exchanges in Europe and most of Asia overnight are keeping the domestic outlook buoyant.

Today is also Cyber Monday – the flip-side to the big box Black Friday,  which saw growth of 23.6% year over year to $6.2 billion on the day. Thanksgiving itself was also a big up-day for retailers, bringing in $3.7 billion, up 28% from a year ago. Small-Business Saturday, also part of the holiday shopping pantheon, rose 24% this year to $3 billion overall.

These figures don’t occur in a vacuum, however; in fact, there is more of a mix between foot-traffic buying and online purchases than ever before. Look no further than Amazon’s AMZN totals over the weekend: between Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, the eCommerce pace-setter captured a whopping 48.6% of the total retail market. This also suggests Cyber Monday’s growth rates may be a little softer than the other holiday shopping segments, as analysts are looking for “just” 17.6% year-over-year growth in online sales today, to $7.8 billion overall.

Other big retail winners over the weekend will come as a surprise to exactly nobody: Walmart WMT grew 23% year over year between Thanksgiving and Black Friday, boosted notably by its Click & Collect feature, which cranked up 73% from the year-ago quarter. Walmart competitor Target TGT was up 48% over the weekend from a year ago.

Retailers, along with just about all other sectors, have really taken it on the chin over the past several weeks. Concerns over a possible recession somewhere in the middle of next year based on higher interest rates and complications related to the U.S.-China trade war (assuming things don’t get ironed out this week when President Trump meets with President Xi at the G-20 summit in Argentina) have sent U.S. indexes spiraling downward. And if the worst-case scenarios do begin to reveal themselves in 2019, we may look back on this holiday season as the long-term peak.

But as we’ve seen time and time again over this multi-year market, positive sentiment from consumer confidence – even more than things like business investment, which have been drying up as of late – is what’s spurring the market forward. If consumers can help indexes climb this most recent wall of worry, we may have seen our trading lows for the current term as well.

Mark Vickery

Senior Editor

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