I walked into a Banana Republic tonight. I was not really intending to do any shopping but the fiancée wanted to do some shopping so I went in. With two days left till the big day, I was not looking forward to the big crowds. So as I went into Old Town Pasadena, I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as crowded as I feared. It was crowded, but definitely subdued from what you would expect just two days before Christmas.
I got parking relatively easily. And when we walked into various sores, it really was not crowded at all. The very first thing I saw when I walked into Banana Republic were heavily discounted items. There was a light silk cashmere sweater (similar to the one pictured) at the front of the store marked down about half of its normal price, from $70 to $35. To make it an even better deal, there was an additional 20% off any sale item. I ended up getting that item for about $30. I had no intention of buying anything but since I needed some new, warmer clothes anyway I decided to take advantage. I bought two other items, all of which were heavily, heavily discounted. This can not be a good sign when there are deals this good.
The thing is, the store was relatively empty. It seriously looked like any other night. Now granted, it was getting slightly late at around 9:00 p.m., but still plenty of time was left for people to shop. Even sadder was the fact that I basically walked up to the register to pay, something that almost never happens this time of year. I have had many similar observations at Best Buy, even on Black Friday.
So it is no surprise that many forecasters are saying this will be the worse shopping season in decades. It was just reported that for the first time ever, online sales actually decreased from the previous year. There is no doubt to me that this is going to be a very tough Q1 for many retailers as they report dismal numbers. The trick is, are they as bad as everyone expected? It is hard to say because so many people have predicted a dire year, myself included. But I have to think the market is going to sell off even more in Q1. While the predictions have been dire, the market over the last month has behaved relatively well, shrugging off most of the bad news. Can it continue to do that? I just cannot believe it can.
Now if only my Home Theater receiver would go on sale even more than it already is ...