Sure, you'd love to see a pile of presents under the Christmas tree. But if you don't know whether you'll have a job next year, you might have to dial back the expectations.
Nobody knows that better than retailers, who count on holiday shoppers for up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. So they're trying a variety of things to lure customers.
Layaway is back, and it's free at some stores, such as Sears and Toys R Us.
Toys R Us is also offering toy reservation programs and a price-matching guarantee on its in-store products. It will match prices that appear in competitors' print ads and give customers seven days to get a price adjustment if they find a lower price elsewhere. It won't match competitors' online prices, but it will match those on its own Web sites.
Other stores, including Wal-Mart, also offer price-matching guarantees for local competitors' brick-and-mortar stores. Most have resisted extending that to online sales, but that may be changing.
This year, Best Buy is giving its store staffers discretion to match competitors' online prices for appliances and electronics. And Target is matching prices at select online competitors.
Wal-Mart and Toys R Us are giving shoppers the option of buying items online and paying when they pick them up at the store.
And eBay, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and the U.S. Postal Service are experimenting with same-day delivery in select markets for customers who buy items online.