Zero Hedge 
December 6, 2011
While everyone was celebrating “record” black Friday sales, we noted that the bulk of this was due to sales channels taking on negative margins , and due to a “cash for clunkers” like effect in which future sales were pulled forward. Sure enough, we now learn that this is precisely the case, after Reuters reports that “more than a third of U.S. shoppers are already done with most of their holiday shopping, a survey showed on Monday , signaling that retailers need to offer bigger incentives to win sales in the few weeks before Christmas… About 32 percent of people surveyed by America’s Research Group said they finished a majority of their Christmas shopping in November. Last month included Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when stores pulled out all the stops on discounts to woo shoppers during their biggest season of the year. More than 6 percent completed most of their holiday shopping in the first weekend of December.” In other words so much for holiday shopping as a driver of stocks, as there is no way that the remaining two thirds of shoppers can carry the entire season regardless of what massive discounts retailers provide. This is also quite disturbing for US GDP which relies primarily on PCE as a driver to growth (although when that fails retailers can pretend they are stocking up on inventory), and will likely mean that banks which most recently (as of a week ago), had an upgrade round to Q4 GDP will be forced to promptly cut it back down. Lastly, as Rosenberg noted yesterday, once the bills come in January, that’s when the wheels will really come off, just in time for the non-extension in the payroll tax.
About 28 percent of people surveyed said they plan to take a break from shopping, now that the Black Friday weekend is behind them.
“Many, many consumers, when they got those early bird specials on Black Friday, decided that that was going to be the big purchase for their family,” Beemer said, adding that many shoppers spent more than they planned on Black Friday.
Sales during the Black Friday weekend soared to $52.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, which sees sales for the full season up 2.8 percent.
The survey also highlighted other grievances of the post-recession U.S. consumer.
More than 43 percent of those surveyed said they expect the debt crisis in Europe to hurt the United States, while about 36 percent of Americans said political gridlock in Washington as the biggest problem facing the U.S. economy right now.
About 27 percent worry about the rising cost of living, while about a quarter of those surveyed see unemployment as the key issue faced by the U.S. economy.
Many shoppers said that discount chains would be their destination of choice to do the rest of the holiday shopping, with nearly 38 percent of holiday shoppers planning to visit one, highlighting that shoppers remain highly price-sensitive.
“You have got to give them a deal that is incredible,” Beemer said, suggesting retailers slash prices and offer deep discounts of 50 percent and 60 percent to lure shoppers this month.
Once the news trickles out, expect several hours of propaganda on bubblevision how soaring volumes (which are about to plunge) more than make up for negative margins. After all, nobody in the US (or Europe apparently) is good at math.