'Nightly News' Spins 'Black Friday' Increase as Bad

     A simple, “Oops, we were wrong – things weren’t as bad as we predicted,” would have sufficed. But that would have meant straying from the message that everything is bad with the American economy.


     The Nov. 30 “NBC Nightly News” devoted a 36-second segment to higher-than-expected sales for “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving traditionally known for high shopping volume. The National Retail Federation reported 7.2 percent higher per person spending on Black Friday 2008, with 25 million more shoppers than in 2007.


     But the “Nightly News” spun the increase in spending as a bad thing. Anchor Amy Robach suggested retailers inflated spending statistics by offering better deals than are usually available on Black Friday – a day known for great deals.


     “But, despite what may prove to be a good start, there is reason for concern among retailers who fear those crowds were driven by deep discounts,” Robach said. “In addition, more of those shoppers surveyed said they are already close to finishing their holiday shopping this year.”


     Robach downplayed the significance of Black Friday sales for the economy only seven days after “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt emphasized it.


     “Next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and a giant barometer on the true state of the economy,” Holt said on Nov. 23.


     The National Retail Federation, the organization that tracks the sales used in Robach’s report, said in a release on Nov. 30 it expects holiday sales will rise 2.2 percent this year to $470.4 billion – a modest increase over 2007, but an increase nonetheless.


     ShopperTrak, another organization that tracks holiday spending, reported a “strong,” “healthy” and “truly amazing” 3 percent increase in spending over 2007.


     The media predicted dismal Black Friday sales in 2007 as well, but that year sales jumped 7.2 percent for the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2007 – a total increase of $16.4 billion.