All the U.S. retail data for the month of November indicates a good solid month of sales. The lull at Black Friday, then, was probably just the result of so many Christmas shoppers who got shopping done early. It makes sense with the shopping mood indicators everyone was talking about: lower gasoline prices, early snow cover, consumer sentiment, and so on. It is also consistent with the ten-year trend of Christmas shopping moving earlier in the season, as shoppers try to avoid the risks and hassles of Black Friday and the mid-December rush.
I consider this also a favorable indication for a reduction in consumer time pressure. If so many people are ahead of the curve with their Christmas shopping, it is a sign that people are getting ahead of their time pressure in general. It’s not enough to call a new trend, but it’s the first big move away from time pressure that I’ve been able to identify in the United States since at least 2002. It is too early to say this with confidence, but my hope is that this may mark the end of the long-term trend of ever-increasing time pressure on consumers.