"The ugly sales year that was 2008 will haunt U.S. retailers in 2009, with industry experts warning that disastrous holiday sales will spark a domino effect of store closures and bankruptcy filings. And, with thousands of fewer stores, the 'shop-'til-you-drop' mentality that has characterized American consumerism could be coming to an end.
This spending slump, which started in early 2008, has already claimed a number of retail casualties. Prominent national chains such as Linens 'n Things, Steve & Barry's, KB Toys, Whitehall Jewelers and Shoe Pavilion have gone out of business. Still others such as No. 2 electronics seller Circuit City are barely surviving, hoping to find a lifeline while in bankruptcy protection.
But after suffering one of the worst year-end shopping seasons in decades - November and December combined can account for half of merchants' annual profits and sales - experts predict that many more chains will disappear.
The International Council of Shopping Centers estimates that chain store closings could exceed 3,100 in just the first half of the year."