THAT said, Best Buy's business is hard-core electronics, not blow-dryers; the company is betting that if a family buys just one gift this December, it will involve electronic entertainment. "When the customer gets into difficulty, they tend to cocoon," Mr. Dunn says. "After 9/11, they invested in their homes and loved ones and experiences."
Mr. Dunn says he usually wins his office pool for predicting December results; this year, he's betting that cocooning drives sales, but he acknowledges that "it's too soon to tell" how the holiday season will play out.
"As the economy becomes tougher, people think more carefully about whether they really need to buy an item," he says. "The threshold for a considered purchase has moved down. Last year, it might have been $500. This year, it might be $300, $200 or even $100 for some families."
Enough for an iPod case and a Slingbox cable, but not much more.