Wednesday, November 30, 2005

NRF Shopping Numbers

The Mystery Pollster debunks and looks at the NRF's methodology for their Black weekend shopping numbers.

This is probably only of interest to me because I have been fielding questiosn all week about why my company's numbers are so much lower.

Since the press release is out - We're showing a 0.4% increase in spending over the entire weekend and a 0.9% decrease for Black Friday based on traffic figures and monthly estimates.

Update, here is our mention in the WSJ. Woo hoo:

The most bearish estimate came from ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago
market-research company with about 40,000 cameras in retail locations,
mostly shopping malls. (For more on the company's methods, see this print
Journal article12 from December 2004.) By counting foot traffic from the camera images and converting that into sales figures, the company reported a sales decrease of 0.9% on Friday, and an increase for the weekend of just 0.4%. As NRF and others have pointed out, ShopperTrak doesn't have cameras in the big
standalone retailers that opened early Friday and offered the biggest
discounts (like Wal-Mart), and therefore may have missed much of the sales
increases. But Bill Martin, ShopperTrak's co-founder and executive vice
president of sales, stood behind his company's estimates, and said that it
has proprietary methods to extrapolate from camera data to the entire retail
industry. He declined to provide details. In response to the NRF estimate,
Mr. Martin told me, "Double-digit increases are beyond any test of reason
that we can see in the marketplace."

Sorry for not posting about anything besides this, but work is eating up my life. Hopefully after the holidays I will have more time for posts about actually interesting things.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Black Friday Shopping

The numbers for this weekend are in (I should know I spent all weekend writing them up.)

Sales figures are down or up depending on who you talk to, the NRF is posting a gain in sales of 22% this year based on national survey data. (4,000 responders or so)

ShopperTrak is showing a 0.5% decline in sales for the total weekend based on traffic and other econometric data. They also reported a 1.4% decline in national retail traffic. This is based on counts of traffic and other econometric data. (full disclosure, I work there)

The NRF numbers are very optimistic, so far however the numbers in their release don't add up. There must be some interesting factoid I am not privy to to make these numbers work. (thanks to my boss for some of this analysis and the press release which I can't find a link to online)

Their press release says we should have seen 145 million shoppers over the weekend, but their numbers don't add up.

60 million on Friday (estimated)
52.8 million on Saturday (estimated)
22 million on Sunday (same as in '04)
Total = 134.8 million.
That is a difference of 10.2 million shoppers (145 million - 134.8 million).

And then their sales figure is 27.1 Billion dollars, and they are saying on average that consumers spent 302.81. But if 134.8 million people spent 302.81 dollars that would put us at 40.8 billion dollars. Which is a big difference. Their is clearly some other factor they look at when calculating spending, I wonder what it is.

Also they seem very high and it is likely that consumers overstated their purchases in the survey. Surveys as I may have mentioned before, are not the best measuring tools available. (Uhh they suck)

It will be interesting to see how the numbers are revised over the week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Since when is wanting a reasonable work week a women's issue? I guess it is one of the major things frequently brought up when discussing why there are fewer female senior executives. Women want (Horror of Horrors) a family, and a life, and that is just unreasonable if you want to be successful.

But Fortune has an article today that points out that shockingly men would actually like to have lives too:

Our new survey of senior FORTUNE 500 male executives offers surprising
answers. Fully 84% say they'd like job options that let them realize their
professional aspirations while having more time for things outside work; 55% say
they're willing to sacrifice income. Half say they wonder if the sacrifices
they've made for their careers are worth it. In addition, 73% believe it's
possible to restructure senior management jobs in ways that would both increase
productivity and make more time available for life outside the office. And 87%
believe that companies that enable such changes will have a competitive
advantage in attracting talent. Other interviews suggest that the younger a male
executive is, the more likely he is to say he cares about all of this.

Of course there's a roadblock to reform: fear. FORTUNE's survey found
that even though most senior-level men want better options, nearly half believe
that for an executive to take up the matter with his boss will hurt his

Don't know much about this survey, but it isn't exactly a revolutionary concept that people would want time for friends family and extracurriculars. Even Men, The workhorse of the human race don't salivate a the idea of spending 47% of their life (an 80 hour work week) at their job.

But seriously, I am glad that there is a push for a more humane work week. Fortunately I am in touch with my own laziness and would never try for a job that required more than say 50 hours per week. Sadly not all people are so lucky. What's the point of making money, if you never have time to spend it?

It is good to see that Fortune is trying to push the 40 hour week off of the "women's issue" table. Though it is sortof surprising that it was on our table in the first place.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Not just a City in China

MSNBC has this Oh so helpful filler article on tipping today.

I thought I would add some wisdom that I accrued over the weekend via my roommate. The tip for a lap-dance is typically between 10 and 20 dollars.

No wonder stripping is such a popular occupation.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Irony is that they called it Intelligence

Kevin Drum posts about the Intelligence leading up to the Iraq war and how dissent against this intelligence was suppressed. Whether or not it was intentionally suppressed remains to be seen.

But IMHO whether the suppression of dissenting voices was intentional or not is irrellevent. The evidence as shown in Kevin's post points to a deep seated problem within the White House and the surrounding Intelligence community. This problem is the same problem that is has been studied and identified as being responsible for the Challenger Disaster as well as The Bay of Pigs Invasion during the Kennedy administration. It is called Group Think, and has already been identified as a problem within the Intelligence Community at large.

The question that should be asked is how much of the suppression of intelligence and groupthink leading up to the Iraq war was a symptom of attitudes within the White House. Regardless of intentionality intelligence was suppressed and I think there should be a push from outside the White House to show that not only are they making actual improvements to the intelligence community but also to the culture within the White House.

Unfortunately recent events such as the lack of Federal response to Hurricane Katrina did little to alleviate my fears about the level of incompetancy within this administration. So maybe it isn't REALLY their job, but when one of my coworkers doesn't do their job, I do it for them for the good of the company. (And then I point out to my boss that it wasn't really my job.....) And lets not even mention the Harriet Miers debacle. (Though some would argue it was a political move, and it may well have been.)

When it comes down to it, the President is an employee of the citizens of the United States, and he has a responsibility to show that he is doing his job to the best of his ability. We should not be criticized for criticizing him. We hired him to do a job, and he should take pride in doing it well, and showing us what a good job he's doing. And if he isn't doing a good job, well, he should thank his lucky stars it is a contract position.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shinobi v. Mono

It was a long and arduous battle, but I have emerged, scarred, exhausted, victorious.

My attention span is still too short to blog. I'm back in the office today. I long for sleep.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Holy Crap!

AMAZING New Family Guy Episode.

The episode is all about mocking the FCC. There are no words. This epsidode makes up for the existance of American Dad.