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‘Black Friday’ Fades as Weekend Retail Sales Sink

Wall Street Journal (11/30/14) Shelly Banjo; Drew FitzGerald

A National Retail Federation survey of 4,631 consumers on Nov. 28 and 29 reveals that retail spending over Thanksgiving weekend fell 11% from last year to $50.9 billion, with shoppers spending an average $380.95, or 6.4% less than during the same weekend in 2013. Even so, the trade group predicts that holiday sales will climb 4.1% over last year.

The decline can be attributed to retailers offering deals prior to Black Friday and the fact that shoppers do not feel like they have to rush out and snag deals during the Thanksgiving holiday, especially since brick-and-mortar retailers increasingly are offering free shipping on online orders and price-matching their online rivals. Moreover, experts say consumers remain thrifty despite the end of the recession, doing research online to find the best prices and becoming less likely to make impulse purchases.

American Manufacturing Is Alive and Well

Wall Street Journal (11/30/14) Justin Lahart

Although the percentage of private-sector workers employed by manufacturers has fallen from 25% in 1980 to 10% today, there are many other workers, including truck drivers and forklift operators, who are not employed in manufacturing but depend on it. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of manufacturing activity increased from 56.6 in September to 59 in October, which is a level not usually reached by the index.

While it would not be surprising to see the November figures decrease, experts say they may not decline by much, with the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Philadelphia, for instance, indicating that manufacturing activity has been picking up steam. This may indicate that the economy has entered a healthier stage, with hiring gains helping to boost consumer spending, which helps increase production and leads to more hiring.

ASA State of the Industry Webinar at Capacity—Free Recording Available to Members Afterward

Tomorrow’s ASA State of the Industry webinar is full, but a recording will be available to members soon. This new quarterly webinar series has quickly become one of the best ways staffing firms can get the timely data, credible research, and strategic analysis they need to stay ahead of industry trends.

This ASA State of the Industry webinar takes place Tuesday, Dec. 2, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time. The recording will be available, free for members, a few days after the webinar, so join ASA today to ensure you can access it.