November 28, 2015

AP’s Rugaber Hides the Overall Decline in Thanksgiving and Black Friday Sales

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 6:30 pm

The truth about this year’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday store and online sales is out there. It’s just that Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, wasn’t interested in clearly revealing all of it.

Instead, the AP economics writer told readers about the dollar amount of this year’s and last year’s Thursday and Friday store sales, but failed to quantify the increase in online sales. People who don’t follow the economy closely likely don’t know that an increase in online sales is quite unlikely to offset a decrease in brick-and-mortar store sales. The way Rugaber wrote up his piece ensured that news of the economy’s continued malaise will remain elusive for low-information news consumers and, ultimately, low-information voters.

Here is some of what Rugaber wrote (bolds are mine):

BLACK FRIDAY STORE SALES FALL AS AMERICANS BUY MORE ONLINE

Black Friday shopping is shifting from hours spent in line to more time online.

Sales at retail stores on Black Friday fell to $10.4 billion this year, down from $11.6 billion in 2014, according to preliminary figures from research firm ShopperTrak.

And sales on Thanksgiving dropped to $1.8 billion from just over $2 billion. The firm compiled data from 1,200 retail chains. The figures don’t include e-commerce.

A big reason for the declines is increased online shopping, as Americans hunt down deals on their smartphones, tablets and computers. Another key factor: Many retailers are offering bargains long before Thanksgiving, limiting the impact of Black Friday specials.

Still, most analysts expect this year’s holiday sales to show stronger growth than last year’s. Americans are starting to see early signs of pay increases, hiring has been solid in the past year, and low gas prices are leaving more money in shoppers’ pockets.

Online retailers have been bombarding customers with email discounts for weeks. Online sales jumped 14.3 percent on Friday compared with last year, according to Adobe, which tracked activity on 4,500 retail websites. Email promotions drove 25 percent more sales compared with 2014, the company said.

(Last sentence, Paragraph 12)

… Overall, about $1 in every $7 in holiday shopping sales will occur online this year, IHS predicts.

Precious few readers who even get as far as Paragraph 12 will be able to figure out from the information presented that this year’s combined online and store sales on Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday trailed last year.

The fact remains that Rugaber could have typed “Adobe online sales” into most browsers. If he had (maybe he did, and decided that hiding the decline was more important than disclosing the truth), the default or first listing would have taken him to VenturBeat.com, which reported the following over 5 hours before the AP reporter’s 4:32 p.m. story time stamp:

Adobe: Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales up 18%, iOS numbers almost triple Android’s

Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales set a new record in 2015: $4.47 billion, up 18 percent over last year.

More specifically, $1.73 billion was spent on Thanksgiving and $2.74 billion was spent online on Black Friday, further showing how the one-day shopping event has become a two-day affair.

The latest numbers come from Adobe, which today released the final totals for Thanksgiving and Black Friday (previously reported numbers were projections).

Now we can determine the overall results. Here they are:

TgivingAndBlackFriSales2015and2014

A 4.1 percent decline is far from minor, and renders indefensible the breezy confidence credited to “most analysts” in Rugaber’s fifth paragraph that “this year’s holiday sales … (will) show stronger growth than last year’s.”

Maybe they will, but they’re already playing catch-up from fairly far behind. But of course, most of Chris Rugaber’s readers won’t know this, because he wouldn’t come right out and tell them — which, last time I checked, is supposed to be his job.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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