Wal-Mart ( WMT) said Monday that July same-store sales growth is tracking in the 2% to 4% range, on par with its guidance provided last week. The forecast preserves a moderation from the 4% to 6% growth guidance the company has issued each month since March, reflecting a growing susceptibility to macroeconomic factors. On Monday, the company cited a decrease in tax stimulus. "The initial effects of the 2003 tax stimulus program were seen in June of last year as withholding tables were adjusted. We have now anniversaried these reductions and the impact of child care tax credits will begin to be seen in July," the company said. The company also cited higher gas prices for the July guidance. Wal-Mart has said in the past that the discretionary spending of its generally lower-income customer base would probably be hurt by higher energy prices. In the latest month, Wal-Mart posted a same-store sales gain of 2.2%, below analysts' consensus, and at the low of its revised lower guidance of 2% to 4%. It was Wal-Mart's lowest monthly same-store sales gain since May 2003. The company's main rival, Target ( TGT), also saw a slowing of consumer spending in June, posting a 2.3% increase in same-store sales, its lowest gain since October 2003. The company had originally expected an increase of 5% to 7%. Wal-Mart said sales in the week ended July 9 were strongest in the food, paper goods and pet supplies categories. The East and Southeast regions had the strongest sales. Traffic and average ticket were positive, with ticket making up 60% of the week's same-store sales increase. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company will release sales for the period ended July 30 on Aug. 5. Shares of the company closed at $51.76 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Target closed at $41.27.