The Stock Market Game Week in Review: Nov. 19-23

Here's a look at the retail industry during the holiday shopping season.
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Clearly the big news last week was Black Friday -- the unofficial start of the frenzied holiday shopping season and the projected launch of the year-end rally. Black Friday originally received its name because of the heavy traffic experienced on the day, but it has now come to mean the first day of the year that retailers' balance sheets are "in the black," or in positive territory.

While no one can predict with certainty what the stock market will do on any given day, forecasting a gain on the day after Thanksgiving has been a safe bet in years' past. Investors tend to be well rested (from their "

post turkey coma") and often express it by bidding up share prices upon their return.

Stores also offer big deals to woo the gift-buying public to open their wallets. But this year may be a bit different, as there doesn't seem to be a consensus on whether a year-end rally will actually happen. Many feel

Santa won't be coming to town next month because of the myriad of woes investors are facing, from the credit crisis to concerns that consumer spending will not rebound sufficiently.

While many retailers again offered extended hours during this holiday weekend to allow shoppers to cash in on "doorbuster" deals, this year is a bit different, as many big-name companies started their Black Friday specials early.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

announced six "secret" in-store deals on its Web site on Friday, Nov. 2. Wal-Mart further attempted to use its Web site to drive traffic to its stores announcing further "secret" in-store deals for Friday (Nov. 23) and Saturday (Nov. 24) morning.

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Report

and

Sears

(SHLD)

also offered shoppers early deals. Circuit City launched a two-day sale online the previous weekend (Nov. 17-18) and started selling different "Black Friday" bargains on Monday, Nov. 19, Tuesday, Nov. 20, and Wednesday, Nov. 21, and Sears also provided special discounts before Friday, Nov. 23's, big holiday rush.

Why the big push

before

Black Friday? Clearly the current economic climate is affecting bottom lines, and "retailers are trying to extend the idea of Black Friday to get customers to shop over a longer period," says Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation.

But don't discount a visit from Rudolph and his gang just yet. December is typically the second-best month of the year on Wall Street, according to the

Stock Trader's Almanac, with the fourth

quarter also the best of the year. The strength can be attributed to everything from good holiday cheer to the impact of year-end

dividends and bonuses. Then there's the "Santa Claus" rally, which encompasses the last five trading days of the year and the first two of the new year.

InvestWrite Deadline: Nov. 30

As a final reminder, don't forget to submit your

InvestWrite essays by Friday, Nov. 30. Not only does the program serve as a great culminating activity for

The Stock Market Game, your students have the opportunity to earn great prizes for their efforts. Good luck to all submitting essays!

To see last year's InvestWrite student winners, click here.

This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.