Anecdotal Black Friday reports are not an economic indicator
Want to know what's going on with the American consumer?
You could listen to today's anecdotal reports on lineups for Black Friday; or you could flip a coin. Either method will offer about the same level of insight.
What about that 'data' from various retailers or retail lobby groups? Toss those thinly-disguised PR campaigns in the garbage pail too.
One of the problems with data around this time of year is that year-over-year comparisons are tough because of the secular shift towards online shopping. Year-after-year the data has underestimated US consumer shopping simply because buyers have transitioned from the madness at the mall to the comfort of buying things from a computer.