Wal-Mart, Target Are Limping Toward Holiday - TheStreet

Updated from 9:03 a.m. EST

Christmas might be around the corner, but holiday cheer has yet to reach


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The retailing rivals each reported on Monday that their December sales continue to come in lower than they hoped.

Target, for instance, said that its same-store sales last week and for the month to date are coming in below its plan of 4% to 6% growth. Earlier on Monday, Wal-Mart reported that its same-store sales for both periods are at the low end of its 3% to 5% plan.

Both reports, which summarize the results of like outlets open for more than one year, cover sales through Friday. Both retailers have warned of similarly disappointing results in previous reports this month.

Wal-Mart reported its sales before the bell, while Target reported afterward. Although both companies posted gains in regular trading on Monday, each stock dropped after hours. In recent trading, Wal-Mart's shares were down 28 cents, or 0.5%, to $52.79, while Target's stock was down 32 cents, or 0.8%, to $37.84.

As with its

earlier reports, Target said Monday that its sales were below plan both at its namesake division and for its corporation as a whole, which includes its Mervyn's and Marshall Field's units. The company had projected that comparable-store sales at its Target division would grow 5% to 7% this month.

Sales of men's apparel, home d¿cor and electronics helped drag down its results, the company said. But the company did see strong sales in pharmacy and baby products, it said.

Regionally, Target's stores performed best in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast areas, the company said.

Wal-Mart's report was little better than Target's, but that wasn't a surprise. In its earnings report last month, the company warned that it wasn't seeing the pickup in spending that investors were expecting.

Last week, while the average customer spent more per visit than in the same week last year, total customer traffic in Wal-Mart's stores was down, the company said. The company did say that its sales picked up over the weekend, but it declined to project how that would affect its results for the month.

Among the strongest categories for Wal-Mart last week were electronics, toys, food and girls' apparel. The strongest geographical area for the company was the Mid-Atlantic.

In addition to Target and Wal-Mart,

Best Buy

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and other retailers have also

struggled with sales this holiday season. Analysts have blamed outsized expectations, continued job woes and gift cards for disappointing holiday sales.