Now that Black Friday weekend is in the books, analysts are giving us some idea of how major brick and mortar retail chains are doing. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) and Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) are among the big winners so far this holiday shopping season, according to analysts at numerous firms.
No shortage of supply
One of the trends noted this year by Sterne Agee analysts Charles Grom, Renato Basanta and John Parke is that there seemed to be no issues with supply, particularly with doorbuster deals. They visited a number of stores starting Thanksgiving night and found a big rush at around 8 p.m. at most retailers, followed by “a significant lull” between 3 and 7 p.m., and then another strong rush on Friday morning.
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The analysts said most doorbuster deals had just “OK” success as they found that many shoppers were cherry picking a number of the time-specific deals at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT). They noted that several retailers which had front-page items listed still had those items in stock late Friday morning. Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) and Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) all had numerous doorbuster items still available at midday on Friday, especially in the electronics and cookware categories.
Interesting trends on Black Friday
The Sterne Agee team was surprised to see so many “younger millennial shoppers” at the mall and said that this is a good sign since so many consumers are starting to shift more of their purchasing online. They also note that outwear sold really well on Friday.
Another interesting trend was noted by Paul Trussell and Matt Siler of Deutsche Bank. They said most big box retailers received most of the traffic after Thanksgiving dinner, while the attention shifted to department stores starting at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night and running through Friday afternoon.
A less-glowing review of Black Friday shopping
Of all the analyst reports we reviewed, Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly C Greenberger and her team were decidedly less positive than the others. They say Black Friday sales were probably “in-line to slightly below expectations.” They said even though retailers opened on Thanksgiving, an increase in Thanksgiving traffic offset Black Friday mall traffic.
According to the National Retail Federation, there was a 2.9% decline in Thanksgiving weekend sales year over year. The organization reported a 27% increase in Thanksgiving Day traffic but only a 3.5% increase in Black Friday traffic. The Morgan Stanley team said this suggests that the average consumer spent almost 4% less year over year while responding to deep discounts on items.
J.C. Penney wins by returning to its roots
Analysts at multiple firms also found that J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) did well with its return to promotional pricing and couponing. Deutsche Bank analysts said although the retail chain’s traffic didn’t appear impressive compared to that of its peers, they think the company will win compared to its recent poor performances.
Who won the overall Black Friday weekend?
Of course analysts have differing views on which retail chain won Black Friday weekend. Sterne Agee voted for Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) as the big winner, citing its earlier opening time, promotional intensity and success in cold weather wear, footwear, and home or kitchen appliances. UBS analysts also liked Macy’s as a “positive standout” over the weekend.
Deutsche Bank analysts thought Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was the big winner with its “impressive one-hour guarantee on 21 items” and the sell-outs of most of its doorbuster deals. Note that this is contrary to the above report about other retailers which had doorbusters which didn’t sell out. They said a conference call with Wal-Mart management suggested an increase in Thanksgiving Day traffic.
Morgan Stanley analysts also named Macy’s as a big winner, although their other picks were The Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) and L Brands Inc (NYSE:LTD).