Analysis of spending and lineups is a PR exercise

One of the easiest ways to get your company's name into the newspapers and on TV is by sponsoring some kind of survey. It doesn't matter if it's scientific or if it's proven to be wrong in the past, the media will publish it.

Today and over the next few days there will be a series of reports purporting to show a strong/weak start to the holiday shopping season. There will be numbers and analysis and comparisons.

For instance, Adobe Analytics says consumer spending rose 16.8% year-over-year through 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

It's all garbage. None of them correlate with retail sales or corporate profits.

So shopping may be strong or weak (probably strong), but don't make that bet based on any of the early numbers. A particular skew comes from the general, secular popularity of online shopping. That's moved buying to this weekend and the final days before Christmas.