Searching for (any) good tidings

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Retail industry coverage gets the busiest during booms and busts, as speculators gobble up brands when things are good and companies hemorrhage personnel and brands when things are bad. It should come as no surprise that 2008 fits into the latter category.

The news started out bad early on, as several catalog and Internet retailers hit the skids. Things worsened as banks tightened the screws on retailers, but the bottom didn't really fall out until autumn, when consumer confidence – which had shown remarkable resilience up until then – plummeted.

Retailers didn't lose all hope, however. The most forward-thinking continued to innovate, with social networking and mobile marketing strategies standing out.

The grand finale —the holiday shopping season — began with several big questions looming.

Would Thanksgiving weekend sales help consumers shake off the doldrums? Would online sales actually deliver? What if holiday sales are as bad as some are predicting? As has been widely acknowledged, several retailers currently are in vulnerable positions. The holiday season may be the last straw for some.

-Chantal Todé

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