Updated from 2:51 p.m. ESTThere was more food for the bears Monday in the weekly sales reports of several big retail chains. Wal-Mart ( WMT) and Federated Department Stores ( FD) both said same-store sales were trending below expectations. J.C. Penney ( JCP) said sales at its department stores were above its plan. But the company was less sanguine about its Eckerd drugstore chain, saying comparable-store sales there were below expectations. After the close, Target ( TGT) said that while its same-store sales last week beat its expectations, its sales for the month are still coming in below plan. Same-store sales compare results at outlets open for more than one year. The comparable store sales results follow what has been a mostly disappointing holiday season for retailers. On Monday, ShopperTrak RCT projected that retail sales this December at general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other related stores would grow by just 1% over last year, marking the slowest annual growth rate since September 2001. Last week, the retail research company estimated that that retail sales for such stores fell 11% for the entire holiday season compared with last year. Meanwhile, even sales at online retailers, expected to grow by more than 20% this year, are coming in below projections. Monday's same-store sales reports follow a post-Christmas warning last week from Wal-Mart that its sales were coming in below its expectations. Wal-Mart had previously projected that its same-store sales would grow 3% to 5% this month compared with last December; the company now expects sales to increase 2% to 3%. Wal-Mart gave further details on Monday, saying that it expects its Wal-Mart division to post a same-store sales increase of 3%. But the company expects its Sam's Club wholesale stores division to post same-store sales declines in December. The disappointing news came despite two days last week in which the retail behemoth had sales totaling more than $1 billion. Target had similar news for investors on Monday. The Minneapolis-based discount chain planned for growth in comparable store sales of 3% to 5% this month. Sales last week were "well above" that plan, the company said Monday. But the results weren't good enough to rescue the month; instead, the company reiterated a
But J.C. Penney balanced that news with disappointing results from its drugstore division, which it had hoped would post same-store sales gains of 6% for the month. The company now says sales at Eckerd were coming in below that plan. Meanwhile, J.C. Penney projected that sales at its catalog division would be down 20% for the month, roughly in line with expectations. The news was all bad at Federated. The company, which operates Macy's and Bloomingdale's, had already said its same-store sales for November and December were coming in below its plan of no growth to a 2.5% decline. On Monday, the company said that its comparable-store sales in December would come in at the bottom of that range, at around a 2.5% decline. For its combined November and December period, same-store sales are expected to drop 4.5%, the company said. Last month, same-store sales at Federated dropped 7.4% over the same period last year. The company has been
suffering from widespread discounting this holiday season and a long-term trend of consumers turning to discount chains, such as Wal-Mart and Target, instead of department stores.