Experts: Black Friday Forecast Dim

The nation’s financial crisis might keep some shoppers away from Black Friday.

ShopperTrak, a national provider of retail intelligence solutions and services, reported that holiday season shopping traffic will decline “a dramatic 9.9 percent.” The company’s National Retail Sales Estimate (NSRE) also forecasted a 0.1 percent increase — a record low.

“Currently we’re anticipating the lowest retail sales and total U.S. traffic numbers we’ve seen since we started compiling this data in 2001,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak co-founder, in a press release. “Due to numerous factors that retailers can’t control, 2008 has been a challenging year and it seems this pattern will continue throughout the crucial holiday shopping season.”

Black Friday is the post-Thanksgiving day ritual that kicks off the official shopping season and is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The current financial meltdown on Wall Street isn’t the only factor keeping consumers away from retail shops. ShopperTrak reports that election years usually distract consumers from retailer’s sales.

“Our historical data suggests that during election year’s consumer shopping slows in the weeks leading up to and immediately following an election,” Martin said. “If the correlation between 2002 remains true, this is yet another strong factor that could influence fewer visits to malls and retail outlets, negatively impacting sales.”

Despite the predictions retailers still hope to attract consumers with early-bird and online-only specials.