Markets are coming off a couple of tough weeks, but the holiday-shortened week will give investors a bit of a break. Markets are closed on Thursday to observe the Thanksgiving holiday, and Friday will be a shortened trading day to recover from the overeating that is sure to happen the day before.

This week, there's not a lot of economic data being released, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) will be driven by continued concerns coming from Washington and an all-important holiday shopping season.

What to watch for this week
Black Friday was formerly the big indicator of consumer spending in the holidays, but this year the mania will spill into Thanksgiving day. Target (NYSE:TGT) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) are both opening on Thanksgiving night in hopes of extending the sales season.

Last year, sales grew 6.6% to $11.4 billion on the biggest  shopping day of the year. But you may want to look beyond 4:00 a.m. shoppers to get a pulse of the consumer near the end of this week. Online shopping accounted for 40% of the $52.4 billion spent in Black Friday weekend last year, so Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and others will certainly get a big chunk of the sales. 

Look for cheap deals on the market
Some of the best shopping deals this week may be on the stock market, where fears of a fiscal cliff have been sending stocks lower. But consumer confidence is very high and housing is improving rapidly, which will be a big boost to the economy. I think we're in for a strong bull run, and a good shopping season may be just the catalyst we need to move stocks higher. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.