Barry Ritholtz is doing a public service at his blog by exploding the myths behind the reported holiday retail sales. The numbers announced by various interested parties are dutifully reported without analysis or skepticism by the media. These numbers often turnout to be not only wrong but illogical. How can holiday sales increase by more than 10% over the previous year? During a slow economy? Read more details, and learn to be skeptical about the headlines and data you see.
The data supports the theory: There is zero correlation between what people say their gift shopping intentions are on these surveys, and what they actually spend.
This might lead you to think that the media to be somewhat circumspect in reporting the breathless nonsense from an industry PR group; that merely reprinting a press release is not actual journalism; Perhaps you might suspect a lack of basic math skills would dissuade you from financial reporting.
However, you would be wrong.