Drone Armies: Not Just for Star Wars Anymore; Black Friday Goes Cyber

With the Black Friday/Thanks(puchase-first-then)giving Weekend over and Cyber Monday now stretching into Cyber Week, I will do my best to make sense of some of the reports coming out.  One thing looks pretty clear: digital sales on mobile devices are taking over while traditional foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores are falling off.  IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark: overall sales up 17.5% as of 6PM EST on Cyber Monday; nearly 30% of customers were using mobile devices.  Custora Pulse: online sales up nearly 19%.  ChannelAdvisor: sales on Amazon up 44.3% over last year, eBay up 32.1%.  Joel Anderson, CEO of Walmart.com: “There’s no way…that it won’t finish as our biggest Cyber Monday ever.”  55% of shoppers on Walmart.com were accessing the site from a mobile device.  Meanwhile, the numbers for brick-and-mortar retail stores from two different analytics companies are at odds.  ShopperTrak is reporting that sales for US retailers were up 2.3%, but they also say that sales on Black Friday fell 13.2% and foot traffic was down 11.4%.  Redbook Research reports same store weekly sales for the end of November (includes the Black days) up 4.9%, while Goldman Sachs’ International Council of Shopping Centers is more in-line with ShopperTrak at 2.5%.   The National Retail Federation, on the other hand, says that US retail sales dropped by 3% over the weekend and that the average shopper spent about 4% less than the same weekend last year.  It appears as if retailers are stretching Black Friday very thin and this may be causing all the noise with the numbers.  With some stores opening earlier on Thanksgiving Day and extending their doorbuster deals through the weekend, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming more like Black Weekend and Cyber Week.  Also, consider the words “Black Friday” in a future world where Amazon’s drone army blocks out the sun as shoppers order up a brand new 98” TV on their iPhone.  Then again, creating buzz and putting his genius innovation on display might be more important to Jeff Bezos than octocopter delivery robots.  Finally, one last interesting thing to consider: as the baby boomer generation approaches old age, what do you think their millennial children will do with the likely inheritance boom?

Auto Sales Increase Around the World

Sales for Detroit’s Big 3 all increased in November: Chrysler sales jumped 16%, GM up 14% and Ford up 7%.  Pickup trucks continue to be the best selling vehicles for American automakers, with Ford’s F Series leading the way with about 34% more sold than GM’s Silverado and Sierra and 120% more than Chrysler’s Ram.  Research firm TrueCar.com says that average vehicle transaction price dropped a little in November for first time in 3 years.  Meanwhile, sales in China for Japanese automakers are making a comeback from the consumer backlash they faced a year ago.  On the other hand, South Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia are struggling to keep up: they have a much smaller market share relative to Japanese automakers in China and they rely heavily on the US for sales.


Global: Container Firms Order New Ships to Gain Economies of Scale

The Baltic and International Maritime Council (Bimco) says fleet capacity for container shipping will grow by 5.9% in 2013.  The order books for new mega-shipping vessels for the top 21 shipping companies sit between 15-20% of their current fleet.  At the same time, plans to scrap the smaller, older vessels are at an all time high.  “The largest carriers continue to enjoy significant scale advantages, with Maersk and CMA CGM, the first and third largest carriers, continuing to outperform the rest of the industry.”


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