How are you preparing for the fourth quarter?

The chaos on Wall Street this week makes one thing clear: those hoping that the economy will stabilize in 2008 will be disappointed. Any small business owners planning on a year-end pickup or a booming holiday season need to revise those plans.

A Bloomberg survey of economists earlier this month predicts slower growth due to job losses and weak consumer spending. Staffing firm Manpower Inc. reported the bleakest fourth-quarter hiring outlook from retailers since the survey started in 1962. Earlier this month tech stocks fell on expectations of weaker holiday electronics sales. And Deloitte is forecasting 2.5 to 3 percent retail growth from November to January, compared to 3.4 percent last year.

It’s grim news all around, but it’s not clear how small retailers will fare compared to large department stores, discounters or specialty chains. So we’d like to hear from you. What are you expecting for the fourth quarter? How are you preparing? Will you hire less than last year? Keep inventory tighter? What marketing tactics are you mulling to get customers in the door?

Tell us in the comments or email me. We’ll try to share the most innovative solutions and expert advice to help small retailers weather what’s looks like an ugly end to the year.

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