Signs of Weak Holiday Spending Are Starting to Emerge

In a few days, we???ll close the books on both the month of September and 3Q 2013. Soon, we???ll be inundated with corporate earnings reports and assessing whether the results met expectations and how solid the coming outlook is for the last three months of 2013 and early 2014. Those last three months of the year also are a key time for retailers — the holiday shopping season. It???s hard to believe that Black Friday is only 60 or so days away.

For the uninitiated, Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, often regarded as the launch of the Christmas shopping season. What you also may not know is we already are starting to see ads and deals for Black Friday this year from companies like Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and Kohl???s (KSS). In 2012, we saw a number of deals from those two companies, as well as Target (TGT), Sears Holdings (SHLD), Aeropostale (ARO), Barnes & Noble (BKS), Dollar General (DG), Home Depot (HD), Best Buy (BBY), Sprint-Nextel (S) and dozens of others.

Lay away makes a comeback — again. It won???t be long until we are hit with a maelstrom of would-be Black Friday savings and holiday shopping deals from those companies and others. Wal-Mart already kicked off its nationwide holiday layaway program on Sept. 13, which lasts through Dec. 13. Joining Wal-Mart in reviving this once-popular shopping payment plan are Sears, Toys R Us and Kmart. Perhaps they???ve anticipated a weaker holiday shopping season than we???ve experienced in the last few years and are looking to shore up their business where possible.

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