Gift Cards Are Retailers' Last Chance for a Happy Holiday
It's safe to say that the 2009 holiday shopping season was a bad one, particularly if retailers are left looking to gift cards to save their sales numbers. Retailers may argue that 2009 was no worse than 2008, but 2008 was one of the most disastrous holiday seasons in memory. That sales this year are comparable to those from 2008 means the consumer economy probably hasn't improved at all and suggests that the first portion of 2010 won't not be much better.
Retailers may have managed their inventories better this year and hired fewer part-time employees. Those actions may improve their financial results slightly for the fourth quarter. But the really troubling news from the 2009 holiday shopping season is that it was bad enough to leave retailers looking toward 2010 as the year that they may be able to claim a real recovery from the recession.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.