Shopping on Thanksgiving Is for the Birds

Consumers flocked to stores last week.

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Kelly Campbell

Isn’t Thanksgiving sacred?  Weren’t stores supposed to be closed? Shouldn’t we all enjoy a wonderful dinner, family, and good conversation and leave the shopping until Friday? Not this year.

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Many retailers opened their doors at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. on Thursday for the after-dinner crowd. And that crowd came.

Why would a store even think of opening an extra day? Quite honestly: because they need to. For the last four years, businesses have stumbled, and in some cases even fallen. Now, businesses will do whatever it takes to get sales back on track. The big question is: Did it work?

Initial reports show that it’s helping. People came out in droves, leaving their turkey and stuffing half eaten. They told grandma to take a nap and that they’d return before the late news. They left to get the “best deals” being offered. Some saw an extra 25 percent off of an already-good 30 percent discount. Others saw “buy one, get two free” deals. Some retailers had entertainment, others food, and almost all had extra security. Because holiday sales can account for up to 40 percent of a retailer’s total sales, and because there is such a limited supply of consumer dollars, retailers are working harder and harder to capture their share of your wallet.

According to Chicago-based ShopperTrak, Black Friday sales are up over 7 percent, or nearly $1 billion, compared to last year. This represents the biggest year-over-year increase since 2007. This really is amazing when you think of all the issues our economy has been facing. Notably, the U.S. stock market is gyrating all over the board, the Eurozone is in danger, the unemployment numbers are ultra high, and to top it all off, the “super committee” was anything but super. But through all of this, U.S. consumers still came out in droves to shop.

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Maybe they are tired of holding back for the last four years. Maybe they have saved and feel they are in a better financial position. Maybe they just left their budgets home and splurged. Whatever the case, if this continues, we could have one of the best holiday retail seasons in years. That would be a much-needed change for America.

So how does that affect you? The question you should be asking concerns your own situation. You should not attempt to singlehandedly increase the home electronics sales numbers. You should be looking at your budget, your retirement plan, your children’s college fund, and your personal savings situation. If you have done well with those, then you can justify spending more over the holidays. If you haven’t, don’t give in when you see those advertisements. Keep your finances on track.

Remember, life is a journey, and you want to enjoy the ride, but you also want to be able to put gas in the car far into the future. That only comes with discipline.

Good luck and happy investing.

Kelly Campbell, CFP® and Accredited Investment Fiduciary, is founder of Campbell Wealth Management, a Registered Investment Advisor in Alexandria, Va. Campbell is also the author of Fire Your Broker , a controversial look at the broker industry written as an empathetic response to the trials and tribulations many investors have faced as the stock market cratered and their advisers abandoned their responsibilities to help them weather the storm.