A week after announcing that holiday sales fell well short of expectations, Wal-Mart (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report said Monday that same-store sales growth in January's first week was above the company's projected low single-digit percentage growth. Other retailers that reported weekly same-store sales, which track stores open at least one year, were in line or above expectations.

The numbers offered the first glimpse of sales for some of the nation's largest retailers following the disappointing holiday season.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart attributed the higher-than-expected sales to milder weather in parts of the country, particularly the West and South. On Jan. 4, the company disappointed investors when it said same-store sales growth in December was 0.3%, much lower than the

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consensus estimate of a 1.8% gain. Shares lately were up 69 cents, or 1.3%, to $54.63.


J.C. Penney

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said weekly department store sales were in line with the company's plan of a low single-digit decline. For its drugstores, sales in the first week of January were on plan, showing a high single-digit increase. And the Plano, Texas-based company said its catalog sales were on track for a mid-single-digit decline. The shares were up 25 cents to $11.94 recently.

And discount retailer



, based in Troy, Mich., said its sales in the first week of January were on track to meet expectations of a 1% to 3% increase. In recent trading the shares were off 6 cents at $6.44.

Because expectations were modest to begin with, the numbers don't dispel the notion that a slowing economy is hitting the nation's retailers, nor do they offer strong hints that the slowdown seen over the holidays will end anytime soon.