Retail Doom Edition: Best Buy CEO says season is worst retail climate ever; also: Target emphasizing value with gifts and toys, and mall owner may file for bankruptcy

“Since mid-September, rapid, seismic changes in consumer behavior have created the most difficult climate we’ve ever seen.” Those words came this morning from Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson as the electronics retailer warned investors that profits for the year will be lower than anyone expected. After a “modest” drop in sales during September, Best Buy saw a 7.6 percent plunge in comparable-store sales for October.

Best Buy said in a statement that the unprecedented uncertainty makes it next to impossible to accurately forecast consumer spending for the holiday season. So it warned shareholders not to expect an Xbox under the Christmas tree this year. Earnings for the year now look like they will be in the range of $2.30 to $2.90 per share. That’s down from Best Buy’s previous outlook of $3.25 to $3.40 per share.

The nation’s retailers are “terrified” and scrambling for strategies as the holidays near, the Washington Post reports. Macy’s is betting that — yes, Virginia — shoppers will be lured to their stores with a warm, hope-themed ad campaign. Meanwhile, Target is “emphasizing value,” spotlighting gifts that cost under $25, like vintage board games and makeup brushes. It’s also matched Wal-Mart’s move and priced several popular toys for $10 or less.

Still not convinced these are hard times for retailers? How’s this for piling it on: The owner of Ridgedale, Knollwood Mall and Eden Prairie Center may be on the brink of bankruptcy, Finance and Commerce reports. Chicago-based General Growth Properties said in an SEC filing Monday that if it could not extend or refinance its debt or find additional capital, it would need to consider other options to protect itself from creditors. General Growth also owns Crossroads Center in St. Cloud, Apache Mall in Rochester and River Hills Mall in Mankato.

Retailers: What are you doing differently this year to persuade shoppers to open their wallets? And consumers: How do you plan to spend your money differently this holiday season, compared with those in the past? What are you looking for retailers to offer? Leave your comments below!

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