What the Success (Or Failure) Of Black Friday Means For Stocks

As you know, the day after Thanksgiving is a short trading day in the market. For retailers all over the United States today is one of the longest days of the year. This day is affectionately known as “Black Friday.” It received this name because it represented the kick-off of the holiday shopping season, a time in which most retailers generated a significant portion of their profits.Other real estate statistics support these thoughts as well. Foreclosures are at multi-year highs, prices are falling, inventory is rising, and permits for new home construction are reaching new lows. Clearly the real estate market is suffering. Just take a look at the Dow Jones REIT index which is down almost 25% from its high earlier this year.This holiday season Americans are expected to spend upwards of $475 billion according to The National Retail Federation (NRF). More than $24.6 billion will be spent on-line with another $25 billion spent in the form of gift cards. With that much money trading hands in such a short period of time the importance of today and the rest of the holiday season becomes quite obvious.If retailers post poor results for Black Friday it signals a start of a weak holiday shopping season. The strength of the holiday shopping season is closely tied to the success of retail companies in the stock market. We need to watch the results for these retailers very closely.Wal-Mart (WMT), and J.C. Penny (JCP) have already warned about slowing sales growth this holiday season. Other retailers have followed suit. Terry Lundgren, Macy’s chairman, president and CEO, said they were in a “challenging economic environment.” He also suggested that their fourth quarter same store sales might show as much as a 2% negative growth rate.Obviously there is some fear in today’s retail market already. Look at the Retail HOLDRs ETF (RTH) which tracks the top 20 leading retail companies. In the last 6 months alone, the index has fallen almost 12% and is now near a new 52-week low.We will get confirmation of the success or failure of Black Friday in a few weeks. This will come when the large retailers start announcing same store sales for the month of November.Now here is what the newspapers and the press are glossing over.Within the retail group, there are a few who are bucking the general downtrend in the market. Retailers who focus on consumer electronics might have a more positive outlook. According to The National Retail Federation (NRF) more than 50% of consumers are asking for electronics related items like CDs, DVDs, videos, and video games. More than 36% are looking for consumer electronics or computer-related items under the Christmas tree.It is hard to argue with the success that some consumer electronics products are having. It seems like everyone wants the new iPhone, iPod, big screen HD-TV, HD-DVD player, or even game counsels like the Wii or the X-Box. I know I have almost all of those items on my own wish list.Healthcare REITs are more closely tied to the state of the healthcare industry than the real estate industry. They have very stable operations and a good long term outlook- yet have been rejected by the investing community.Here is a perfect example:In my opinion, the most likely retailer success story will be Best Buy (BBY). Their combination of leading edge consumer electronics, competitive prices, and strong customer service will no doubt pack the stores today and beyond.