Black Friday 2009: For retail, nowhere to go but up

With the start of the holiday shopping season two months off, retail analysts' predictions for the first post-crash gift-buying extravaganza are trickling in (via yesterday's WWD).

The good news: Analysts think retail profits may rise in the fourth quarter.

The bad news: They still expect it to be one of the worst seasons on record, sales-wise -- any fourth-quarter spike in profits will only look like a boost in comparison to the previous three quarters' dismal numbers.

Okay, there's a little bit more good news: retailers, who saw a collective 4.5% drop in profits last year, have spent this year attempting to stop the bleeding by keeping a strict grip on inventory and doing all they can to keep prices low. If they want to hit analysts' projections, they'll keep up that disciplined approach into the fourth quarter, which spells great holiday deals for shoppers.

And if all goes well, they'll have the distinction of charting the second worst fourth quarter in 42 years. You guessed it: last year's was the worst. So there's nowhere to go but up.

For more Black Friday coverage, check out our Black Friday Deals and other Black Friday 2009 news today.

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