US retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc had a tough Christmas and will have an extraordinarily challenging first quarter, H. Lee Scott, the CEO of the company said at the annual National Retail Federation confederation.

Scott discarded the possibility that consumers will immediately recover a desire to consume and expects things will return to normal in the second half of 2009. Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. were little changed, down 0.52 percent to $51.31 a share by 3:27 p.m. on the New York stock Exchange.

Some people are giving up eating out; some people are giving up movies; some people are giving up other things like shopping, and they were talking about how good they felt about doing that. Those are fundamental changes that will continue, Scott said according to Bloomberg.

Wal-Mart Inc., the world's top retail chain, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit will miss earlier forecasts due to slower sales, the impact of a strong dollar on its international business and litigation costs.