Shaken by a tough holiday season and bracing for more trouble, the retail scene may look very different in 2009, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some stores will be reducing inventory and cutting suppliers, which could force small manufacturers to fold. Retail bankruptcies could abound. "We will have a lot fewer stores by the middle of 2009,” said an expert. “It's happening very, very quickly.”
Retail dropped between 2.5% and 4% this holiday season compared with last year, MasterCard found, placing it among the worst holidays ever for retailers. Some 10% to 26% of retailers are already at risk of bankruptcy. A shopping-center group predicts 148,000 stores will close in 2008, with 73,000 more shutting their doors in the first half of 2009. Shoppers should expect a smaller selection and fewer concept stores.