CHICAGO – The nation's retailers are set to usher in the holiday shopping season Friday with pre-dawn openings, deep discounts and a downright dismal economic outlook that threatens to keep shoppers' credit cards securely in their wallets.
Stores are extending their hours — some opening at midnight — and preparing for a surge of shoppers searching for discounts that promise to be even deeper than a year ago. But the question remains whether anyone will be spending much money as a recession nears, credit markets remain frozen, layoffs loom and consumer spending shrinks.
"We think the numbers are going to be pretty bad across the board," Morningstar analyst Brady Lemos said.
That's not stopping sales associates at Target Corp. from handing out maps showing just where to find hot items, such as the 26-inch flat-screen HDTV by Westinghouse that's available for $299.
At Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a Magnavox Blu-ray player is on sale for $128.
Meanwhile, at some Best Buy Co. Inc. sites, coffee and doughnuts will be available for customers waiting for doors to open at 5 a.m.
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