(Updated with table of November same-store sales.)



) -- November same-store sales fell 0.3% in an extremely disappointing turn of events for the retail sector, missing the ICSC forecast, which called for a rise of 3 to 4%.

The previous forecast was published when retail numbers were still looking stronger.

"The results were surprisingly weak and a disappointment, too, for much of the industry," said Michael Niemira of the ICSC.

One reason cited for the disappointing results was the abnormally warm weather earlier in the month, which hurt retailers' early month performance. Also, at the tail-end of November, the strength of electronic sales, much talked about by


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, were not reflected in these numbers. Still, the ICSC predicts a 2% to 3% increase in December same store sales, an expected holiday season performance, as holiday shoppers catch up on their shopping.

The ICSC expects that government retail numbers for November will look better because of the strength of retailers' online and electronic sales will be reflected in those numbers.

Despite the picture of gloom, November did offer a few pleasant surprises.



same-store sales for November actually rose 3%, which is 5.5% better than Thomson Reuters' estimates of -2.5%. Limited's record sales on Black Friday drove the results, contributing 3 to 4 point to the company's overall same-store results in November. The company says that its merchandise rates were up in November due to improvements in all its businesses. Limited says its inventories are down 17% on a two-year basis. Consumers will see less Limited promotions in December.

The market is smiling back at Limited, pushing its stock up 2.2% to $18.20.

The company cautions that its Victoria's Secret line's semi-annual sale will take place at the beginning of January, which will negatively impact Limited's December same-store sales results, expected to decline to the low to mid single-digit range.

Same-store results at Victoria's Secret were up 3%, driven by sales of its Miraculous Bra, which exceeded expectations.


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department store showed a 3.3% same-store sales increase, above the 1% estimate. It was Kohl's fifth consecutive month of comparable store increases; home products were among its best-sellers among its cost-conscious shoppers.

Kohl's saw the strongest same-stores sales results occur in the southwest regional market.

Ross Stores

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posted an 8% rise, several notches above the 6.1% estimate. Shoes, dresses and items for the home were Ross's best sellers, while the Southwest and Northwest were the company's top performing regions.

Partly because of its predicted pre-Christmas shopping results, the company projects earnings per share for the fourth quarter to be at the high end to slightly better than its previous guidance of 88 cents to 94 cents.

Wet Seal

( WTSLA) announced a less-than-expected fall of 5%, better than 6.7% fall predicted. The company saw its store sales improve over the Thanksgiving holiday at its Wet Seal division.


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2.2% rise came in as analysts had expected. For the first time, Nordstrom is reporting same-store results for both its online direct business and individual business units, helping to lift its results.

Nordstrom says that it continues to see strong sales in the South-Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, thought its Southern California results continue to fall below its average sales results. Women's high-end shoes, junior shoes and Women's "better apparel" were among the top drivers of its same-store sales in November, especially in the last two weeks of it.

Next to November's biggest surprises in same-store sales were the big misses that pulled down the total November same-store sales metric.

Children's Place

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was a huge disappointment, falling 13% in November same-store sales, compared to the 1% gain that Thomson Reuters' estimates had expected. Children's Place's total sales for November fell 9% to $156.6 million. Year-to-date, sales at stores open at least a year fell 4%, with total sales down 2% to $1.32 billion.

Children's Place included online sales in its November results, and they fell 2% as the companies struggled during the economic downturn and a pull-back on spending.

The market is punishing Children's Place, pushing its stock down 10.7% to $28.20.

American Apparel

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, likewise, tumbled 11%, a much bigger fall than the expected 3% drop. In November of last year, American Apparel reported a comparable store sales increase of 6%. There were 222 stores in the sales comparison for November 2009.

American Apparel opened two new retail stores during the month of November at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, California and at Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Abercrombie & Fitch

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plummeted 17%, much worse than the predicted 9.4% fall. The Abercrombie brand saw comp sales fall 11%, where men's comp declines were in the high single digits and women's comp declines were in the mid-teens.

Abercrombie's Hollister brand saw same-store sales decreases of 23%. In November, Abercrombie tried to boost sales with complimentary gift card promotions. Those issued but not redeemed have been deducted from the November sales. Overall, the company saw weaker sales prior to Thanksgiving than the week of. The company's overall sales fell 8% to $267.3 million in November.

Stage Stores

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fell 12.5% compared to the 5.3% drop forecast by analysts as shoppers continue to watch their spending. The department store operator said the recession and tightened discretionary spending weighed on its performance, but that it did notice shoppers were spending on Black Friday when prompted by deals.



tumbled a jaw dropping 26.1%, even worse than the predicted 20.8% fall. Saks Fifth Avenue stores and Saks Direct were weak across nearly all merchandise categories, the company said.

Sales at Off 5th, the company's outlet chain, were stronger. The results reflected lower promotional and clearance activity than in November last year and the shift of a designer clearance event that was held in November last year to December this year. The company expects its sales at stores open more than a year to fall by a high single-digit percentage for the fourth quarter.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York.

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