PA ANALYSIS: Black Friday zombies should reassure investors

Added 25th November 2016

As bargain-hungry consumers trail around the shops on both sides of the Atlantic elbowing each other out of the way to grab a heavily discounted television set on what is dubbed Black Friday, the data being generated by the combination of all these purchases is decidedly robust.

PA ANALYSIS: Black Friday zombies should reassure investors

Famously, the George Romero film Dawn of the Dead is a critique of consumerism, with the local shopping mall of all places being where the zombies headed to.

It has never seemed more astute a comment on consumerism than now. While there are any number of macro headwinds that could, at least in theory, spook consumers into reining in their spending, they are relentless.

We have had the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s victory in the US election, and geopolitical tensions around the world from Ukraine to North Korea.

Still to come is a referendum in Italy which could throw a major EU country into political disarray, and a series of elections next year in which populist anti-EU parties in France, the Netherlands and to a lesser extent Germany are in with a chance of power.

An imminent interest rate rise in the US, and the possibility of a generally more hawkish Federal Reserve a little down the road are also in the picture.

Despite these things filling the hours of the many 24-hour news channels and sitting on newspaper front pages, the consumer is undeterred in buying a 27th pair of shoes based purely on the fact they are heavily discounted.

Just this morning, it was further confirmed that in the wake of the EU referendum the UK consumer has stoically kept spending. The CBI’s quarterly Distributive Trades Survey reported retail sales have picked up, with volumes growing at the fastest pace for over a year in the 12 months up to November.

Ten days before, it was reported retail sales in the US are rising faster than forecast. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.8% in October from the month before, and were up 4.3% from a year earlier.

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Alex Sebastian

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Alex joined Portfolio Adviser in April 2014 and has been a financial journalist since 2008. He has previously held editorial positions at the Financial Times Group and Euromoney Institutional Investor. Alex is NCTJ qualified and has a degree in economics from the University of Sussex.

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