After the worst holiday season in five years, Wall Street is bracing for a slew of ugly profit reports from retailers and downbeat forecasts for 2008.
Major chains - from Wal-Mart to Macy's to Gap - will report earnings for the crucial fourth quarter beginning this week. With the housing and credit markets in turmoil, gasoline prices soaring and the job market showing more signs of weakness, the picture won't be pretty.
Home-improvement giants Home Depot and Lowe's will be especially hard-hit, with both expected to post profit declines. Analysts will be listening for cost-cutting plans that could potentially hit jobs and wages, as the housing market stumbles through at least the first half of the year.