Juli Niemann: Retail sales get a boost as Black Friday awaits

A shopper passes a store display.

JEREMY HOBSON: Well this morning, the Commerce Department said retail sales jumped a half percent last month. That's a good sign for the retail sector as we head into the biggest shopping day of the year next Friday.

For more, let's bring in Juli Niemann, analyst at Smith Moore and Company.  She's with us live from St. Louis as she is every Tuesday. Good morning.

JULI NIEMANN: Morning, Jeremy.

HOBSON: So does this retail sales number tell you the economy domestically is getting better?

NIEMANN: Well, no one's going crazy, but retailers try to get Christmas going right after the back-to-school sales in September. This is not just a rise in prices, but there has been some real buying. Largely it's been internet purchases, appliances they're replacing and upgrading. Black Friday is going to be very serious this year, you're not going to see much work being done in offices simply because you're going to have online shopping all day, free shipping or nominal shipping for almost everybody, that's the big buzz. In fact, some big retailers are opening Thursday night for the "turkey burp" sales.

HOBSON: Well, it's interesting that you mention free shipping, Juli, because I think that sort of encapsulates the state of the American consumer right now. We've got the people who basically want to feel like they're getting a really good deal but paying really very low prices. Is that the way the consumer is right now and will be for some time?

NIEMANN:Well, it's all because of electronics -- you're shopping with your smartphone in store and online. It's the retail world versus Amazon; everybody compares it to the low prices of Amazon, so you're going to have very competitive pricing, coupons.

Macy's and Target just added their shopkick, that's an application kicking in that gives you points for deals, delivers, home rewards, kick bucks, you name it-- exclusive offers in the store. Nordstrom has full wi-fi. And who are they targeting? It's the 18-35 crowd, these are some serious shoppers. They're amazing bargain shoppers, Groupon, coupons, big deals, no embarrassment about getting more and better for less with that group.

HOBSON: Juli Niemann, of Smith Moore and company, thanks as always.

NIEMANN:You bet.

About the author

Juli Niemann is executive vice-president for research and portfolio management with Smith, Moore and Company.

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