I think I just found the mother of all Christmas shopping omens. Santa's workshop pinkslipped its last three elves after disappointing sales last year. The Finnish government since then sold part of its stake in the enterprise to private investors who vow to cut costs further.
I also think my former colleagues still at The Kansas City Star can identify. But whatever the reason, it seems you can't swing a candy cane without hitting a pessimistic Christmas season forecast.
The National Retail Federation is already hanging crepe for the holidays. They've still got recession discounted Halloween stuff to move. Meantime, online comparison shopping provider Pricegrabber.com reports that shoppers are hitting the stores earlier to stretch their even smaller budgets as far as possible.
Also, a K-Mart near Washington, D.C., last week threw a media party to promote layaway plans.
Not that long ago, stores threw those sorts of things to promote their credit cards. That cannot be a good sign, say retail watchers at the Motley Fool.