Networks: Holiday Sales No Reason for 'Ho, Ho, Ho'

     Just as the holiday season is cranking up, CBS is clamping down. Even strong numbers at Wal-Mart don’t satisfy the negative network.  The November 18 “CBS Evening News” kept up its predictable pessimism about the holiday shopping season – even turning to one happy shopper who turned out to be a debt collector.


     “It happens to be pretty good,” said Brandon Bradshaw about this shopping season. “So, we’re one of the lucky ones.”


     That sounds too good to be true – a consumer that’s not downbeat. Well, that’s indeed the case.


     “Brandon Bradshaw’s business? Debt collection,” concluded correspondent Randall Pinkston. “Russ, retailers are counting on shoppers like him because this is the make-or-break season. Fourth quarter – stores depend on holiday shoppers for 25 to 40 percent of their annual profits.”

     That was the summary of a negative shopping report. “[I]n stores across America where tourists are rare, sales expectations are being scaled back,” Pinkston. “Over the past 10 years, the nation’s retailers have averaged a 4.8 percent yearly increase in holiday sales. This year they are expecting only 4-percent growth. Why? Because consumers are keeping a tighter grip on their wallets. Nearly a quarter [of a Consumer Reports poll’s respondents] say they will spend less on holiday shopping this year than last year.”


     This sentiment has come out of a less than positive media going into the holiday season, even though Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE:WMT), the world’s largest retailer, said it now expects fourth-quarter earnings at the higher end of a forecast they gave in October – news which sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) up 320 points upon its release November 14.


     But Pinkston didn’t even mention that forecast when he reported the outlook for Wal-Mart. Instead, he managed to find a way to even tie it into the 2008 election.


    “Wal-Mart, which reported solid third-quarter numbers, may need to drop prices for shoppers like Carrie Rambo,” Pinkston said.


     “I keep hearing a lot of talk about, you know, recession coming up, which is unusual for an election year,” Rambo said to “Evening News.” “So, that kind of scares me.”


     Pinkston didn’t explain to viewers where or why Rambo might have heard such “talk.”


     The reporting was similar to the 20th anniversary of the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash by speculating if it could happen again in the near-future and ignoring the positive economic news as it did when unexpectedly high gross domestic product growth was released by the U.S. Commerce Department on October 31.