Most retail chains suffered through a dismal, record-warm October, with leader Wal-Mart Stores Inc falling short of Wall Street same-store sales estimates and the apparel sector continuing to struggle.
Experts said the weak October sales, coming as consumers grapple with higher food and gasoline prices in an economy shaken by the U.S. housing meltdown, did not bode well for the holiday season.
We're just seeing a reflection of all the factors out there that are affecting consumers, said Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, which surveys consumers.
This softness in October will translate into continued softness in November and December, he added.
Wal-Mart reported a lower-than-expected 0.4 percent rise in monthly same-store sales at U.S. stores. The company, which has aggressively cut prices on toys and other goods, forecast that November same-store sales would be flat to up 2 percent.
Apparel chains continued to suffer as consumers pulled back their spending. That sector has been hurt in recent months by warm weather and lower-than-expected traffic.
Limited Brands Inc disappointed with a 6 percent same-store sales drop against the 1.8 percent fall analysts expected. Gap Inc posted an 8 percent same-store sales drop versus the 4.5 percent slide analysts expected, and Chico's FAS posted a 10.6 percent sales drop and added profit would fall sharply in the current quarter.
The luxury segment had mixed results with Nordstrom Inc posting a 2.4 percent decline in sales, compared with a 1.1 percent rise analysts expected. Saks Inc said October same-store sales rose 10.6 percent, better than the 5.6 percent rise analysts expected.
Other department stores disappointed, with Macy's Inc same-store sales down 1.5 percent and Kohl's Corp off 3.8 percent.
Our consumers are clearly facing headwinds that are impacting both sentiment and discretionary spending levels, J.C. Penney Chairman Myron Ullman said in a statement. Penney said its October same-store sales at department stores fell 1.8 percent, compared with a rise of 0.8 percent analysts expected.
(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)