October 29, 2010, 12:48 PM

The great holiday kick-off

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Meanwhile, Fathead LLC, which sells large images of sports and entertainment stars and cartoon characters that consumers can affix to walls, hopes that a sense of mystery will encourage purchases this holiday season.

Starting Thursday, customers who provide an e-mail address will receive what the retailer calls Mystery Discounts: A one-time code that, when entered on the site, results in a 5% to 50% price reduction. “Customers won't know their discount until they enter it at checkout,” says a spokeswoman for Fathead, No. 280 in the Top 500 Guide .

Within a few weeks, most online retailers will be well on their way to answering one of the year’s biggest mysteries: How much will recession-battered consumers really spend via the web this holiday season?

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