A lot's riding on Black Friday. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., and this Friday -- Black Friday -- is the traditional peak of consumer bacchanalia. The day after Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday shopping season, and serves as an important indicator of consumer confidence. Experts have chimed in with predictions, and are split on whether a good day would make a dent in the economy's troubles:

Pessimistic

  • America's Getting a Raw Black Friday Deal Writing for The Huffington Post, Gordon Laird reminds readers that no matter the outcome for this year's Black Friday, "once the money is spent, we will still face many of the same difficult issues, such as chronic unemployment, depleted household equity, and tightened credit markets." In fact, Laird says, Black Friday 2008 never ended and continues to wreak havoc on the American economy. "Desperate retailers have continued [since last year] to mark down everything from TVs to luxury brands in an unprecedented wave of discounting that has redefined the marketplace." And who wins in this environment? Laird points to Wal-Mart, dollar store chains and the Communist Party of China. "As China rises and America becomes the world's leading debtor nation, America's continued pursuit of mass consumerism as the keystone of its economy is the very picture of an empire in decline," he says. To end the already year-long Black Friday, Laird stresses American begin a quest for value, not "cheap."
  • Black Friday Is Slowly Dying Citing pre-Black Friday promotions and the fact that Black Friday has not been the year's biggest shopping day since 2005, Datamatian's Mike Elgan claims that Black Friday is on the precipice of death. Boding even more danger for the consumer holiday, Elgan says, is The National Retail Federation's report saying consumer spending this year will average $682.74, down 3.2% from last year's $705.01. For those who deny Black Friday's ICU status, Elgan highlights that its hard to deny that one can find "incredible deals every day and everywhere" now.
  • A Good Black Friday Says Little Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Paul Dales of Capital Economics warns that strong results from Black Friday 2009 could "simply reflect households bringing forward some of their intended holiday spending rather than a sign that spending over the whole holiday period will be strong. It is a warning not to get too excited if Black Friday sales are reported to be strong or too downbeat if they are not."

Optimistic
  • Consumer Revival The Street reports that consumer demand over the holiday shopping season could be strong given the year consumers have had to adjust spending habits to cope with the recession. And while many worry that pre-Black Friday sales could adversely impact Black Friday itself, David Grant, of The Christian Science Monitor, reports that those sales offer only "a sampling of perhaps a dozen discounts. On Black Friday, hundreds of items have their prices slashed." Grant's report goes on to say this should be enough incentive for people to continue their Black Friday rituals of pitching tents and charging retail stores' doors.
  • Retailer Revival Writing for Harvard Business, Rafi Mohammed is sanguine high-end retailers will take advantage of consumers "eager to return to their old, higher-priced shopping haunts." While Mohammed expects steep discounts to help drive sales of higher-margin items for these stores, he says the bigger goal should be to "bring former customers back into the fold with prices that say, 'we miss you; it's time to come back."
  • It's a Holy Day, Not a Holiday TrueSlant's David Knowles reveres Black Friday, saying it is "more holy than Good Friday, if you judge it in terms of energy and excitement." Furthermore, knowles knows the holy day serves as an important economic indicator. "To be in the black as a result of massive Black Friday sales is every store owner's dream. At it means that our collective recession suffering may finally be coming to an end. Let us pray."