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Struggling for buyers' dollars
Last year: As the economy slid into recession, consumer spending slowed, crunched by reduced credit availability from credit-card companies and widespread employment concerns. For the first time in decades, Americans are saving instead of taking on more debt. But that newfound thrift led to a bleak holiday season for small retailers around the country, and a year of slow sales. Numerous small companies have already gone out of business, and consumer spending is still a top concern for those remaining, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

This year: Retail analysts expect a rash of shutdowns in the coming 12 months. While many of those that go under will be large chains, the damage will ripple to the stores' suppliers. Fledgling businesses will also face a hard road: Recent data shows consumer confidence at an all-time low. Because the job market looks to stay grim for quite some time, consumers will continue to be cautious about their spending habits. -Emily Maltby

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LAST UPDATE: Jan 06 2009 | 6:06 PM ET
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