Many of the leading U.S. retailers reported dismal September sales that missed Wall Street's expectations, hurt by unusually warm weather, prompting some to cut their outlook for the entire quarter.
Industry leader Wal-Mart Stores Inc, despite raising guidance for the full quarter on improved margins and lowered expenses, said its sales came at the low end of expectations.
Much of the eastern two-thirds of the United States was two to six degrees warmer than normal in September, which was the eighth-warmest since 1895, weather tracking firm Planalytics said.
That hurt many specialty teen and adult apparel companies that focus on seasonal items, as a lower number of consumers shopped, and those who did postponed buying items such as sweaters, scarves and coats.
Wal-Mart also blamed warmer-than-normal weather and tighter consumer spending for weak sales of cold-weather items, but posted an overall 1.4 percent increase in same-store sales, and raised its third-quarter earnings guidance.
Wal-Mart said overall apparel and home goods sales stayed weak, but low-margin food outperformed sales of general merchandise.
At the struggling retailer Gap Inc, September sales at stores open at least one year fell 7 percent, worse than the 4.4 percent decline that analysts expected.
Same-store sales at American Eagle Outfitters Inc fell 2 percent in the month, due to warm weather particularly in the U.S. mid-Atlantic.
Sales at Limited Brands Inc fell 4.4 percent, hurt by a decline in sales of its intimate apparel and sleepwear. Its Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works stores were hurt by negative traffic levels, the company said.
Both companies cut their quarterly earnings outlook.
At teen retailer Wet Seal Inc, sales at stores open at least one year was down 7 percent. Wet Seal also cut its quarterly earnings forecast earlier this month.
Macy's Inc, which has grappled with disheartening sales at former May Department Stores, also blamed the weather for a 2.7 percent decline in the month.
Earlier this week, Children's Place Retail Stores Inc reported a 3 percent fall in September same-store sales and slashed its third-quarter profit forecast, citing the effect of price cuts on margins.