Black Friday is two weeks away, a day that retailers will be monitoring closely to measure holiday sales during our tentative economy. Will consumers continue to be frugal, cut back and buckle down this holiday season? Not according to the Cheesecake Barometer.
Leading consumer psychologists and marketing academics indicate that shoppers eventually get tired of exhibiting self-control all the time despite less discretionary income. Eventually they break down and indulge, but will pare back on household staples. Recent retail sales validate their hypothesis. The items that are selling are not high priced, but are considered fun, like cosmetics, premixed cocktails and coolers, wine, handbags, etc., Products associated with household chores are on a downward trend – fertilizer, weed killers, bleach, car wax, shoe polish to name a few.
Thomson Reuters reported that sales for U.S. chain stores rose 3.4% in October compared to October 2010 for the 22 retailers they track. These sales were less than what Wall Street analysts were projecting (4.5%) and the 5.1% recorded in September. However one area of indulgence that exhibited strong retail sales is what I title the “accessorize/makeover category.” Consumers, especially female consumers, might not be able to go out and buy a new outfit, but they can enhance their existing wardrobe by buying a new, expensive handbag or a pair of shoes. Then there are cosmetic accessories which jumped 22 percent in the last year according to the Chicago market research company, the Symphony IRI Group. They also reported that sales of body scrubbers increased 21 percent and nail polish 10 percent. Estée Lauder recently announced that their North America division recorded its strongest business results in a decade. Their major competitor L’Oréal reported their first half profits for 2011 were up 12 percent.
So by now you are probably wondering what the Cheesecake Barometer is. Earlier I stated that consumer physiologists are telling us we cannot be good all the time. We need to treat ourselves and satisfy our urges. What could be better than a slice of cheesecake? Approximately 700 plus calories for a basic slice; 1,326 calories if you visit your local Cheesecake Factory and order a slice of their Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple cheesecake. Yes, Symphony IRI also reported that in the past year sales of cheesecakes have risen 22 percent. Thanks to the Cheesecake Barometer, it appears we are going to experience strong holiday sales.
Will you be treating yourself to a slice of cheesecake on Black Friday?