Blackening a Bright Black Friday

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 26, 2005 10:27 AM

You can always count on the press to put a gloomy tone on bright economic news. Check out these Black Friday headlines compared to the news inside the stories:

Big Sales Lure Reluctant Holiday Shoppers

Several major retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Macy's, as well as mall operator Taubman Centers Inc., estimated they drew bigger crowds for the official holiday season launch than last year.

Sure, there were a lot of shoppers, but they were very reluctant.

That Black Cloud Over Retail Has Brightened

An uptick of 7.2 percent in consumer spending in September and October, combined with falling prices at the pump, is providing "strong momentum" for the holidays, said Scott Krugman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation.

Because, you know, what's an economic headline without "black cloud"?

The Baltimore Sun says, "although retailers face a challenging economy, early reports yesterday indicated a strong first day for the official shopping season."

The L.A. Times has more on the "challenging economy":

Broad stock market indexes posted their seventh consecutive daily advance Friday, eking out small gains in a half-day session on Wall Street.

The buying was enough to lift several indexes to multiyear highs, building on November's strong rally in share prices.

I would humbly suggest that several indices being pushed to multiyear highs is perhaps the lede instead of the "small gains" they "eked" out.

This Associated Press story runs under the headline, "Stocks Get Modest Retail Push":

NEW YORK -- Wall Street finished the week with moderate gains Friday, extending a November rally in light post-Thanksgiving trading amid signs of a strong start to the busy holiday shopping season.

The major indexes closed out their fifth straight winning week and remained at four-year highs. Stocks continued their monthlong advance, fueled by an improving economic backdrop and high hopes for solid retail sales that helped cast aside fears of a downturn.

Are four-year highs really modest? Here's hoping the rest of the Christmas shopping season is marked by such "black clouds," "modest gains," "reluctance," and "challenge."