Black Friday 2009: Will Consumers Show Up On Key Shopping Day?

2008 had the worst holiday shopping season in decades--will this year be any different? Retailers are hoping deep price cuts, social media specials, and early sales leaks will lure consumers in as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Analysts predict a heavy turn out despite the recession, in part because there's less competition (45 retailers have gone under since last year's shopping season) and in part because of the promise of big bargains. But with unemployment in double digits will people buy or browse? Market research firm IBISWorld predicts retail sales will rise 2.8 percent over this weekend to $42.9 billion, while others give much bleaker estimates saying retail sales may DIP 1%. While this weekend does not always predict accurately spending for the next month, a weak Black Friday is a bad omen.

Even if consumers are on the hunt will lowered expectations from major retailers come back to bite them? Having failed to sell large parts of their supply last year some companies like J. Crew and the Gap have cut back between 10 and 20% on inventory, meaning popular items many not have a chance to become runaway successes. This hasn't stopped retail giants from throwing open doors early with massive sales to lure consumers in starting as early as midnight, but it might affect the overall sales.

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