Black Friday Is Looking Blue

Retailers are resigned to one of the worst holiday seasons in recent memory. They'll sweeten deals to lure reluctant consumers, but seasonal jobs--and service--may suffer

Jon Lowenstein / Noor for TIME

Here's how worried consumers are this year: retailers have already started promoting what would have usually been their best holiday deals--and have been greeted with collective indifference. The response: Is that all you've got? "The deals aren't that amazing, and the Best Buy circular in particular was so disappointing," says Jon Vincent, founder of BlackFriday.info, an online deal site. "Shoppers expected a lot more with the economy hurting."

Oh, they'll get it, as retailers cave in to the pressure to attract sales dollars. But price alone might not get shoppers in the door, so this could be the season of extreme...