Retail industry sales results for January were mostly lower, on Thursday, however the largest U.S. retailer, Wal-Mart, exceeded analysts' expectations.

According to Retail Metrics, which tracks the monthly sales numbers, its index of same-store sales from leading retailers fell 1.8 percent in January, compared to a slight gain of 0.4 percent a year ago.

However Wal-Mart reported its same-store sales were up 2.1 percent for the month, while total sales were up 1.8 percent to $27.7 billion. Analysts had expected sales to rise 1.1 percent, according to the Associated Press. The company range of sales expectations were from no growth to a 2 percent increase.

We are pleased that we exceed our expectations for comparable store sales in January. Our sales results were driven by a continuation of gains in customer traffic, Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, said in a statement.

Also Wal-Mart announced it will provide performance targets four times a year, rather than each month.

We believe this guidance is a more appropriate measure for our investors, particularly in volatile times when our customer swings are more difficult to predict, said Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart's chief financial officer said in a statement.

Target, a discount competitor, posted a 3.3 percent drop in January same-store sales. That was still better than the projected 5.5 percent decrease.

The largest US department store chain, Macy's, announced same-store sales were down 4.5 percent last month. The company announced on Tuesday a cut in 7,000 jobs.