The run-up to Black Friday is nail-biting time for retailers, and this year many chains face a problem they haven't had in a while: excess inventories. Many chains that had reduced space during and after the recession changed course recently as the economy perked up. Now a 4 percent increase in square footage—space that must be filled with goods—clashes with projections for a holiday sales increase of only 2.9 percent. Department stores and luxury retailers may be hit hardest, since they ordered items earlier in the year when projections were brighter. Another concern: less than 48 percent of the working-age population is employed, the lowest figure since women entered the workforce in large numbers two generations ago.
"There's a whole ton of people that we believe are going to be inventory heavy."—Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners.