OTR Interviews

Economic Sunny Skies After Black Friday?

What the volume of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers say about the U.S. economy and mood of the country

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 25, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Wall Street Journal's senior economic writer Steve Moore is with us now. All right, Steve, I don't have the stomach to brave "Black Friday," but millions of Americans we hope do. I mean, what kind of impact do we know so far?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC WRITER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, first of all, Shannon, let's you and I start a movement that we stop calling this "Black Friday."

BREAM: OK.

MOORE: We should call it "Green Friday" really because people spend their money, right? I never know where...

BREAM: We hope.

MOORE: Exactly! We hope. What we know so far is that the stores were really crowded today and last night, by the way. I was out at midnight at Best Buy, and it was about an hour-and-a-half just to get in the store.

BREAM: Was it crazy (INAUDIBLE)

MOORE: Oh, my God! It was incredible. So...

BREAM: Did you get what you were after?

MOORE: No, the lines were way too long.

BREAM: Oh, wow!

MOORE: You couldn't get in.

BREAM: OK.

MOORE: So I'm going to wait a few days. But so we do know that people are scouring for things. What we don't know yet, and we won't know probably for another three or four days, is whether people actually took out the credit card and spent.

BREAM: That's the important thing. All right, the majority of Americans right now, polls show they think the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Is that how you read it?

MOORE: Boy, it's tough. You know, I do think what happened -- and you were just talking about it, the super-committee failing -- it's just another sign that Washington is completely dysfunctional and is kind of working against investors and businesses.

So I do think there's a perception out there right now that, you know, the economy just isn't working. It's not just jobs, it's also falling family incomes. People's paychecks are more stretched. That's one reason, you know, the retailers are very worried about what this season is going to be like.

I do think if we could get the taxes and the regulations down and just have some certainty from Washington, I really think the economy is prepped for a big recovery. We just haven't had it yet.

BREAM: All right, I'm impressed that you went out last night. But it's still OK that you didn't get what you want because we have another expert joining us now. It's Michelle Madhok, who is the founder and CEO of Shefinds.com.

All right, Michelle, you say -- if shoppers didn't get what they were after last night or today, are there still some deals out there to be had?

MICHELLE MADHOK, FOUNDER AND CEO SHEFINDS.COM: Oh, most definitely more to come. I mean, we're going to be seeing "cyber Monday" is happening Monday. So it's all about on-line shopping, I think. And even more -- you know, the super-Saturday is not until December 17th. You're just going to be seeing more and more deals and you're going to want to be able to keep track of what's going on.

BREAM: And Michelle, I think it's a lot less stressful to shop on line. But is it still a good bargain idea, a good bargain strategy? I mean, how do you go about finding the best deals or coupons or things on line?

MADHOK: Well, it's the best way to get a deal, but the one thing about on-line shopping that makes it more expensive is having to pay the shipping costs. So I love this new service called Shoprunner.com. And what it is, it's a subscription service where you get free two-day shipping and free returns with no minimum order size on over 60 retailers, all the great ones out there, Petsmart.com, Toys 'R Us, Sports Authority, Lord and Taylor, all the places you want -- Toys 'R Us, the big one. How could I forget?

So those are the ones that, you know, you want to shop at. You don't have to worry about paying the shipping charges because a lot of places will give you the free shipping, but not the free returns. And their shipping is usually ground. And if you're waiting for deals, you want to have it in two days.

BREAM: I think I got four Toys 'R Us e-mails today with some kind of coupon or offer. But you know, is "Black Friday," or as Steve would like to call it, "Green Friday" -- (INAUDIBLE) rename it -- is that now starting to pale a little bit in comparison to cyber-Monday?

MADHOK: Black Friday is still the number one. Like, if you look at the stats -- actually, the next one after that is super-Saturday, which is the December 17th one, and then, you know, down the list. So it's actually -- it's kind of not the biggest sale day anymore, but it's still a big -- you know, we're hoping for a big season.

And I think on line continues to grow every year. So more and more people are comfortable shopping on line. More and more have their favorite stores on line. And social media has made on-line shopping promotions huge.

MOORE: You know, Shannon, what -- I actually talked to some of the retailers, and one of the things that they were kind of nervous about is all these folks are going into the stores and looking at the merchandise, the new iPhones and all these things, and then what they're doing -- and this is maybe why Michelle is right, maybe it's going to be a big cyber- Monday because then people go on line and buy the things on line.

And don't forget there's a big advantage to buying on line that you didn't even mention, which is in a lot of states, you don't have to pay sales tax on those -- that merchandise.

BREAM: It's true. And how quickly would we get some data, hard data on how...

MOORE: Probably in the next four or five days, you know? And you know, this is a big, big weekend. This is probably the biggest weekend, other than the weekend right before Christmas, for retailers. So it's huge. I mean, they do an enormous amount of their business in the next four weeks.

BREAM: All right. Steve, Michelle, thanks you both for lending us your expertise.

MADHOK: Thank you.

MOORE: Green Friday.

BREAM: Greene Friday (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

BREAM: Duly renamed.