Last year at this time, Kathy Johnson and her husband travelled to London and Paris, where she spent about $2,000 (1,288 pounds) on a shiny, red Louis Vuitton shoulder bag and a matching charm without much thought.
Facing the weakest holiday season in nearly two decades, retailers and the vendors who keep their shelves stocked are walking a fine line between helping each other stay afloat and protecting their profits.
Children's clothing retailer Carter's Inc raised its full-year growth outlook and said earnings may not fall as much as expected, citing continuing strong birth rates, sending its shares up as much as 16 percent.
Fashion label Tommy Hilfiger is trading strongly despite worries over a consumer downturn, but believes financial market turmoil will eventually spill over to affect spending on upmarket brands, its chief executive said.
Competition and a move away from tailored dressing, only exacerbated by a weak economy, are hurting the men's suit business hard, and retailers are adding to manufacturers' pain by demanding more discounts.