Holiday Season Begins as Retail Slips

November 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
More proof that Americans are keeping a tight grip on their wallets. Retail sales are slumping just as the holiday season begins. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but on Wall Street, there's a lot more red than green.

"With all the news and the markets and the economy, I think everybody is probably a little guarded but we'll just hope for the best," said consumer Dan Britt.

According to government data, retail sales dropped 2.8 percent during October, the biggest drop in the history of the survey. And retailers warn the upcoming holiday shopping season could be among the slowest on record.

To add insult to injury, banking giant Citigroup is slashing 10,000 jobs and Sun Microsystems 6,000 jobs. Even Wal-Mart has trimmed expectations.

"When Wal-Mart is feeling the pain, I think it's an indication that all of retail is feeling the pain and that consumers themselves are questioning their need to spend money in these uncertain times," said Chief Investment Strategist with the S&P Sam Stovall.

Despite the uncertainty, after three days of selling that eliminated about $1-trillion dollars in shareholder value, investors couldn't resist some bargain shopping on Wall Street Thursday. The Dow soared up 552 points after briefly dipping below the 8,000 mark.

But in early trading Friday, the Dow retreated again.

At an oversight hearing today, lawmakers tried to ensure taxpayer money is being spent as they intended to help prevent foreclosure. But the bailout may be branching out. Friday, the mayor of Philadelphia headed to Washington, asking for $50 billion in bailout money for several struggling cities.



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