While it's true that some department-store retailers' recent reports managed to skim across analysts' low-balled exceptions, the department-store sector continues to be, in a word, dismal.

Overall the sector was well below the 4.6% decline U.S. chain stores reported for the month, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. By our tally, department stores saw a drop of 11.5% in sales.

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

fared the best out of the sector, tipping .4% compared with the 3.8% decline predicted by analysts.

The value-priced retailer has managed to edge above its competitors during the recession, as shoppers flock to the chain for compelling merchandise at great prices. As a result,

the company was upgraded

earlier in the week to overweight from market weight by a Thomas Weisel Partners analyst

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

posted a 9.1% fall in May same-store sales, slightly higher than Wall Street's estimate of a 9.3% dip, while J.C. Penney tumbled 8.2%, better than the 9.6% decline expected.

J.C. Penney said spring items in its women's division performed the best, while fine jewelry continued to experience softness.

Dillard's

(DDS) - Get Report

, however, missed expectations, with same-store sales falling 12%. Analysts expected comps to slide only 8%.

Home and furniture exhibited the most weakness at the retailer during the month.

Bon-Ton Stores

(BONT)

saw comps plunge by 12.1%, hurt by soft sales in furniture, men's, home and ladies' shoes.

But it was the high-end department stores

Saks

(SKS)

and

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Report

, that were the biggest losers -- proving yet again that today's consumers are not exactly in the mood to splurge.

Saks saw comps tumble a whopping 26.6%, as sales in every single merchandise category in its Saks Fifth Avenue stores were, well, dismal.

On Wednesday, Saks' shareholders voted to push the company to put directors up for election annually and to eliminate a staggered board with three-year terms, in an effort to make the board more accountable.

They also passed a proposal that would require directors to receive a majority of votes to be elected, rather than a plurality, which can allow a director to be elected with less than 50% of the vote.

Nordstrom also said that it comps tanked 13.1%, off from the 12.7% decrease forecast by analysts. These disheartening numbers came despite the company's half-yearly sale, which in typical times helps boost sales.

But these, it's worth noting, are not typical times.

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