‘Tis the season for lackluster holiday sales and prosperous debt collectors. Fa la la la la, la la la la...
Everything is a little downbeat according to the economic news leading into the holiday shopping season reported on the November 18 "CBS Evening News" - that is of course unless you're in the debt business.
"It happens to be pretty good," said Brandon Bradshaw about this shopping season. "So, we're one of the lucky ones."
But, CBS Correspondent Randall Pinkston trotted him out for a reason.
"Brandon Bradshaw's business? Debt collection," concluded Pinkston. "Russ, retailers are counting on shoppers like him because this is the make-or-break season. Fourth quarter - stores depend on holiday shoppers for 25 to 40 percent of their annual profits."
That was the summary of a negative shopping report. "[I]n stores across America where tourists are rare, sales expectations are being scaled back," Pinkston. "Over the past 10 years, the nation's retailers have averaged a 4.8 percent yearly increase in holiday sales. This year they are expecting only 4-percent growth. Why? Because consumers are keeping a tighter grip on their wallets. Nearly a quarter [of a Consumer Reports poll's respondents] say they will spend less on holiday shopping this year than last year."
Ironically, Pinkston's sentiment has come out of a less than positive media going into the holiday season, even though Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE:WMT), the world's largest retailer, said it now expects fourth-quarter earnings at the higher end of a forecast they gave in October - news which sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) up 320 points upon its release November 14.
But Pinkston didn't even mention that forecast when he reported the outlook for Wal-Mart. Instead, he managed to find a way to even tie it into the 2008 election.
"Wal-Mart, which reported solid third-quarter numbers, may need to drop prices for shoppers like Carrie Rambo," Pinkston said.
"I keep hearing a lot of talk about, you know, recession coming up, which is unusual for an election year," Rambo said to "Evening News." "So, that kind of scares me."
Pinkston didn't explain to viewers where or why Rambo might have heard such "talk."