Investors know that it will be a week of heavy eating and light trading. The market is closed on Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving, and the exchanges will close early on Friday.
However, it won't be a light week for retail. The holiday shopping season officially kicks off on Friday, though Black Friday seems to be arriving earlier and earlier every year.
Several major store chains will be opening on Thursday night. Walmart (WMT), Toys R Us, and Sears (SHLD) will open at 8 p.m., and other leading retailers will open shortly after that.
Whether it's the unsavory images of stampedes that take place early on Friday mornings when customers in search of "doorbuster" deals sometimes do bust the doorsm, or the realization that people may not want to line up int the wee hours of a cold night for the sake of a $20 DVD player, merchants are finding it easier to open on Thursday evening than Friday morning to kick off their most important sales season.
Employees might not feel that way. Even though many chains pay time-and-a-half to those who staff the stores Thursday, some resent being called away from their Thanksgiving festivities early.
Investors will want to see where the shoppers are, hoping to get an early read on which retailers will post strong holiday quarter performances.
Other Things Worth Watching
• Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reports on Tuesday. After seeing PC rival Dell (DELL) serve up uninspiring quarterly results last week, it's easy to brace for the worst. Folks just aren't buying PCs or laptops anymore, and it's a safe bet that HP's printers aren't doing so well either. Analysts are already counting on the negative trend working against HP. They see slight declines in revenue and earnings out of the tech bellwether.
• Just ahead of Black Friday, a few retailers will check in with their quarterly results. One to watch will clearly be Best Buy (BBY). The consumer electronics giant has been sputtering lately, and the turnaround plan that its new CEO presented to analysts last week didn't exactly impress them.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy.
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