It's Huckster Season!
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Considering sending spam? Read this first.

2023-11-21 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Market Musings , 290 references Ignore this thread
It's Huckster Season!
[Comments enabled]

Otherwise known as CHRISTmas.

I had to chuckle at this one from Xthe hubris of thinking that lifting lots of mass off the surface suddenly makes interplanetary life for humans (and other living things) reasonable is beyond crazy.  I've gone through the reasons why this is silliness in the past so long as we're using chemical reaction-mass rockets -- and there's no indication that anyone is about to breach that scientific barrier.

Of course the "consumer orgy" known as Black Friday is imminent as well; the flyers are already showing up and so is the promotion on anything that you might use as an "App" or if you've given some merchant your email address or your cell number.

The next six weeks, more or less, are usually pretty good for equities.  The remaining question mark in this year is whether or not people have room on the plastic for another trip to either their Amazon account or the local merchants.  I found it interesting that the recent MARTS report was quite tepid all things considered; the entire report on a "seasonal adjusted basis" was down 0.1% and, quite-notably, retail sales were only up 1.6% from last year's level, while even by the CPI they don't try to claim inflation was less than that.  Thus, in inflation-adjusted dollars (that is, in units of things sold) retail trade sales were negative 

An interesting point in the MARTS report is that Grocery and other food and beverage store sales were statistically zero (+0.16%) in change from last October.  Given that we know inflation in food hasn't been zero by any means this is a very solid indication that inflation is hitting people's food consumption budgets and they're buying less.  While food and beverages are often thought of as "non-discretionary" that's only true at the edges; most people buy an awful lot of discretionary food and beverage items and yet here we are with a statistical zero which, given inflation data, says that unit sales are down materially.  The same is true for furniture and home stores except there we have a roughly 12% annual spend decrease, so it would certainly appear that people are putting off that new sofa or bed, and clothing was statistically flat so it looks like the ripped jeans are being worn for another month as well.

A 10% increase in health and personal care looks to be materially-comprised of pharmaceuticals.  That's rather involuntary most of the time.

And as for driving people to drink, well, perhaps -- that annualized change is 7.7%, which looks a lot like the real inflation rate, so perhaps that is all, of nearly-all, not in more beers but more-expensive beers.  I can believe that.

October is of course a month that doesn't have much other than Halloween in it, which does make for a pretty-good y/o/y comparison basis when it comes to "baseline" consumer trends and is far enough away from Black Friday to evade any sort of realistic "pull forward" type of effect.  The November release (including Black Friday) will be on the 14th of December, so we have a while for the various media folks to tell us how great (or not) the post-Turkey sales might be.

I've received several circulars with "Black Friday" sale prices and 0700 opening hours for stores starting the Monday of Thanksgiving week.  It would appear that there are merchants with either a bit of  "jump the line-ism" or desperation are out there -- but its hard to know which.

I can tell you this from Monday morning -- I went up to BassPro bright and early, 0700.  There was no congestion in the parking lot. There were three customers I saw in the store including myself, two buying firearms-related items (one ogling a gun, one was ogling a scope.)  I saw one thing I wanted at a price that was reasonably-discounted and purchased it -- total spend under $20.  They spammed every person in the area by postal mail with their circular for "early" Black Friday shopping and got exactly nothing in terms of a crowd this morning out of it; all that ink, paper and postage was worth bupkis.

I have often called this silly season for the markets, and even in really bad times (e.g. 2008) that has proved up to be pretty accurate. 

We shall see if its "Santa Claus", as expected, or Sandy Claws this year.

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Comments on It's Huckster Season!
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Blue.ridge.steve 1k posts, incept 2013-02-02
2023-11-21 08:54:27

Exactly NOTHING has caught my eye from the Black Friday spam. While my wife and I are in as good a financial position as ever there isn't much on our shopping list this year. I've been holding off all our big ticket spending until there is desperation for our business. Maybe next year. We are patient.

My family all said "Let's do a small Christmas this year". The winds blowing in from the North are signalling a chilly holiday spending season me thinks.
Unwashed 158 posts, incept 2023-06-23
2023-11-21 08:54:27

Meanwhile, AAA is calling this thanksgiving the highest travel day in 18 years with iirc, 55 million people traveling on this holiday. Don't know where these people are getting the money from.
Veeger 1k posts, incept 2013-02-13
2023-11-21 08:54:27

I've noticed that Trader Joe's and Costco have been crazy full last week and yesterday right from the opening bell. If you weren't already parked by the time they opened, you weren't getting a spot until someone came out...

Never seen it so busy so early. I'm thinking folks are trying specifically NOT to have to wait until the last minute to get food and .... More of a 'pull it forward' phenomena than it being a busy season. We're close enough to the border that perhaps our northern friends are looking for a bargain.

Restaurants, on the other hand.... well I made some reservations as has been my practice but walked into half full places...

Gas prices dropping is a big tell that folks aren't going very far this season. I suspect that excess diesel is still going overseas which means that there's plenty of gas. (For every unit of diesel, there has to be some unit of gas out of a barrel of crude). Lower gas prices can only mean they need to get rid of it and no one's buying...

I remember the Diamond Princess.

Slowly at first, then all of a sudden.
Whossane 292 posts, incept 2018-01-25
2023-11-21 08:54:27


If you're still looking for a mountain bike, now would be a great time to visit your local Trek retailer. Check out the 9.8 GX
Thelazer 1k posts, incept 2009-05-11
2023-11-21 08:54:27

There is really no point to "black Friday" anymore if you ask me. Deals are online way ahead of time and who the hell needs to swarm wallmart for a $250 TeeVEE.

The only thing I do on black Friday is go over to the beer store for a limited release day and even that isn't really needed as folks already showing up with cases of it being sold out the back door ahead of time.
Unwashed 158 posts, incept 2023-06-23
2023-11-21 08:54:27

Related to my above post, sometimes I believe I'm living in bizarro world

In the latest sign of an economy edging deeper into troubled waters, more Americans are raiding their 401(k) retirement accounts to cover basic living costs, according to data released by Fidelity Investments on Monday.

"Americans outside the wealthiest quintile have run out of extra savings generated early in the pandemic and now have less cash on hand than they did when the pandemic began," notes Bloomberg's Alexandre Tanzi, citing Fed data.

According to Fidelity, 2.3% took a hardship withdrawal in the third quarter, up significantly from the 1.8% rate observed in the same quarter of 2022. The top two reasons given for the third-quarter hardship withdrawals: avoiding foreclosure/eviction, and medical expenses.
Ingar 688 posts, incept 2017-02-14
2023-11-21 09:13:58

Inflation is greater than any positive figures in retail spending reported in guvamint reports, so it is clear that people are tightening their belts. They're either tightening their belts, maxing out their plastic, or having the limit reduced.

I look forward to Black Friday every year because I enjoy seeing the videos of nitwits fighting over the latest technology bauble or fashion item. My participation in this Black Friday will be limited to eating at a local cafeteria for $7.70 and patching a pair of jeans. And thanks Apple, but my $25/month flip phone serves me well.

I've seen some local restaurants close because they were the poorer performing stores in a chain. It's hard to generate enthusiasm for just another iteration of jazzed up gruel, so I expect to see more food franchises closing. The same applies to the retail stores dependent on discretionary spending. That's drying up and so will those stores. If our consumer driven economy stalls out, will the guvamint panic and try to stimulate the economy with more cheap money? Maybe they'll june up another war for us to fight for israel. That should help the economy.

How will Elon's dream of colonizing space happen when the world's largest rocket blowed up? It blowed up good. It bowed up real good. Elon's finances may do the same since he has been accused of anti-chosen people-ism and in the eyes of the guvamint, that's worse than being a child molester. The trained seals have begun to denounce Elon.

Aquapura 4k posts, incept 2012-04-19
2023-11-21 09:17:29

Count me in the camp that misses the Black Friday of yesteryear where there were legit stampeedes to get into the stores. Not that I participated, but it made for some good YouToob watching after the fact.

For this year DW has already purchased most of the gifts as we only really do it big for the kids. She has been finding "deals" online for the past 6 weeks. I keep telling her the deals will get better but whatever, the shopping is done.

I did notice over the weekend that the grocery store was picked over pretty well for the upcoming holiday except when it came to the meat counter. All the rib roasts, prime rib, etc. were well stocked. I know Thanksgiving isn't a red meat kind of holiday but living in cattle country I expected to see some takers. I plan to do some Black Friday shopping and see if there are some markdowns to fill the freezer. That's my kind of shopping.
Nickdanger 2k posts, incept 2011-06-12
2023-11-21 09:22:16

Black Friday, huh? We've been getting "Black Friday" emails for the past month. It seems like every business is trying to get ahead of everyone else for the sales. So far, nothing of interest. We plan on a small Christmas as usual, mainly focusing on getting together with family.

-- I'm in the control group

-- In life, it's important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong.
Onething@atime 147 posts, incept 2020-04-25
2023-11-21 09:22:19

Black Friday. As if.

According to an e-mail I got from AVG yesterday, their "Black Friday" sale ends TODAY.

Reminds me of an article I saw in Time or Newsweek (one of the two) in 1987 to the effect "The 80s Are Over."

Except... more stupid.

2000: "More cowbell."

2023: "More stupid."
Tickerguy 200k posts, incept 2007-06-26
2023-11-21 09:23:24

Yeah, the other one that was pretty good is that REI has their usual 20% off ONE full-priced item.

Except the sort of things I might want to buy and are fairly expensive -- like a new pair of skis.

"Anyone wearing a mask will be presumed to be intending armed robbery and immediately shot in the face. Govern yourself accordingly."
Ocdawg 525 posts, incept 2019-03-14
2023-11-21 09:25:26

Christmas 2023 retail= B-R-U-T-A-L smiley

@Unwashed- Saw the same article on people digging into their 401Ks. Former Toys-R-Us CEO expects worse Christmas numbers in 30 years. We don't need the discounts for the regular stuff...

Come January 2024, reality will overcome all the smoke and mirrors TPTB have been running... and it's gonna get ugly fast... no more track and the light's blazing out of the tunnel... and sad, bad results are also coming....


The quest for the Three-peat continues...


Reason: grammar
Shadowmask 6k posts, incept 2021-05-24
2023-11-21 09:45:39

JoAnn's and Ulta both had Black Friday specials before Halloween.

The learning curve for being dead is steep, but everyone gets it down pat on the first go usually.--Thystra, March 28, 2023
Onething@atime 147 posts, incept 2020-04-25
2023-11-21 10:01:12

Ocdawg wrote..
Former Toys-R-Us CEO expects worse Christmas numbers in 30 years.
Our Toys-R-Us closed a few years ago. (Well, more than a few. This happened pre-Covid.)

Now it's a Tesla location. Or will be. I don't think it's open yet.
Porterhaus 14 posts, incept 2021-08-18
2023-11-21 10:01:21

II spent nearly $600 on groceries yesterday for family meals over the next few days - and I wasn't going crazy as I already had a good store of ingredients at home (although yes there were a few bottles of wine in that mix). I'm a cook and feed my people well but I've never spent that much for Thanksgiving week before. Good thing we all love leftovers.
Mjeff87 3k posts, incept 2021-11-22
2023-11-21 10:09:58

Homo Depot has been having their Black Friday sale all month. If you notice, about 75% of the items are the exact same as last years "sale". I did buy a few spring clamps they had for can never have enough of those.

I did pick up a belt drive GDO there a few years ago on BF sale for dirt cheap. It replaced the (functional) noisy-as-all-hell builder grade chain drive unit that came with the house. And also that 250 lb/ft 1/2" drive torque wrench too.

Apparently they still have tons of both in their inventory, lol.

Si Vis Pacem, para Bellum

You'll get less than you desire, but more than you deserve
Kcforreal 77 posts, incept 2021-09-27
2023-11-21 10:10:22

Note - this post is kind of all over the map - sorry!


Meanwhile, AAA is calling this thanksgiving the highest travel day in 18 years with iirc, 55 million people traveling on this holiday. Don't know where these people are getting the money from.

I think AAA is including the millions of BBJs (Biden Border Jumpers) and MMs (Mayorkas Migrants).

Concerning food prices - the variation I've been noticing is nuts. I just bought lamb loin chops at $5.98 lb from Sam's Club while Sprouts and HyVee has them at $15 lb and Hen House at $17 lb. Same quality. And what's the deal with mayonnaise? That shit spiked way up during the egg shortage and has not come back down with the shortage over.

Yeah, I find it hilarious that people actually think they're going to get a sustainable colony on Mars, assuming of course they survive the trip. The cost equations are so far out of whack it makes you think the same clowns behind EVs and the global warming hoax did the math for this. Come back to me when dilithium crystals are discovered and a warp engine is developed.

Speaking of worldwide hoaxes, I'll draw a parallel between the EV and warming hoaxes and the early 20th century insanity over eugenics - people never fucking learn they are being manipulated. While I'm a huge Ayn Rand fan I can no longer agree that people are inherently good. I think they have the potential to be good but millenia of history including the current days tells me that the majority doom this world to ignorance and violence in their inability to perceive certain truths and are easily manipulated by the worst impulses within them. Namely, fuck everyone else and get it while you can. Perfect example: almost our entire federal government.

T-day, we don't do turkey 'round here, too many leftovers. Nope, a couple of wild rice and mushroom stuffed Cornish game hens will be the main course with with creamed pearl onions and oven-roasted fingerling potatoes, followed by scratch pumpkin pie then a vintage Port with Stilton cheese on crackers. I bought a lifetime supply of Port back in the mid-90s when I was still working, a supply allowing around 4 bottles a year to be opened so it costs me nothing now. I shudder at the prices they're charging for it now.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

"Most people are not just comfortable in their ignorance, but hostile to anyone who points it out." - Plato, The Allegory of the Cave
Raven 16k posts, incept 2017-06-27
2023-11-21 10:19:33

Lotsa people traveling? I am this holiday week for pleasure.

Perhaps it is due to being at attractions as opposed to metros where people visit, however people would traditionally use this week to go to these places. And the weather is awesome for these activities, even better than the usual seasonally nice...

Hotels lots are empty, perhaps 1/8 full. Yet, they are still charging holiday week/attraction prices and not budging, even for an evening room request. They are still trying to hold pricing power. This is an interesting phenomenon which i have been seeing for a while and now quite often in some venues, a topic for another time.

I think that the hotel are also BSing when i inquire as to Thanksgiving Day availability. One wonders these things when on the road. They are by policy not admitting to not being anywhere near fully booked.

@Unwashed -- AAA has been in bed with the travel industry a long time. It has gotten a lot worse over the past decade to the point where one disregards what they say. Places now are giving the same price with their discount or not, one can tell. Probably my saying that i am a member gets AAA more than i get in some sort of kickback and other business sharing. Jump through their hoops when booking things to save $5, meh.

BTW -- roads and restaurants are empty.

Mission Complete

The truth is just too powerful to know. Those who hold the truth suffer more than those who believe the lie. -The Hall of Tears
Tickerguy 200k posts, incept 2007-06-26
2023-11-21 10:20:38


Its flat-out EMPTY around here.

Merchants no happy.

"Anyone wearing a mask will be presumed to be intending armed robbery and immediately shot in the face. Govern yourself accordingly."

Burya_rubenstein 2k posts, incept 2007-08-08
2023-11-21 11:09:06

Does anyone here need reminding that the original event that was called Black Friday was very definitely NOT good for business?
Burya_rubenstein 2k posts, incept 2007-08-08
2023-11-21 11:09:14

BTW: Karl, could you design a thorium-powered space ship?
Chemman 431 posts, incept 2021-05-03
2023-11-21 11:09:38

Prime Rib and Ham will be the meats for T-Day. My wife has issues eating dry meats. Left over ham will be used for lunches. Left over Prime Rib will be used in various evening meals.

Picking up the Prime Rib at the Butchers this afternoon.

Black Friday will be taking our daughter out to splunch at her favorite Mexican joint for her birthday.

Will do a small Christmas with the same meats.
Greenacr 945 posts, incept 2016-03-15
2023-11-21 11:09:59

I have also read on the internet that New Car sales are crashing and there is an inventory back log on Dealer lots. Rumors of incentives coming after the 1st of the year. Not sure how anyone who isn't in dire need of a vehicle will be able to afford them with interest rates what they are.

EV's are especially in trouble as apparently all who wanted one now have them and there is almost ZERO sales occuring.

Let the good times roll!
Andrew 280 posts, incept 2014-09-24
2023-11-21 11:10:12

"Friday of Color", as someone put it some years back.

I wonder how many folk decided to skip shopping because of other priority.
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