Electronics are in, women's clothes are out -- and leather handbags and jewelry are on the fence heading into next week's unofficial start to the 2007 holiday season.
U.S. consumers are struggling with soaring fuel and food costs and the falling housing sector. At the same time, there are few, if any, must-have items getting shoppers excited.
"There aren't a lot of segments in the retail sector that are poised to have a good holiday season," said Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics.
Many consumers think a recession could be looming, according to a recent survey by America's Research Group. And analysts and investors are closely watching the holiday season to see whether those fears prove out.
"In our view, the consumer is on the precipice of experiencing its first recessionary phase since 1991," David Rosenberg, North American economist at Merrill Lynch said in a research note earlier this month.
Even the luxury segment, once deemed immune to the economic issues that haunt the masses, has started to show some cracks.
Leather goods seller Coach warned about weak traffic in its U.S. stores in October and upscale department store chain Nordstrom posted an unexpected drop in same-store sales in October.