Flat Sales at Williams-Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma ( WSM) said holiday sales were flat, but still stuck with its earnings outlook for the fourth quarter.

The upscale housewares retailer reported same-store sales, those at stores open for at least a year, were flat for the eight weeks ended Dec. 26, compared to the same period last year. Net sales rose 7.3% to $775.9 million from $723.2 million last year.

"The majority of our shortfall was driven by a weaker-than-expected consumer response to the holiday merchandising strategies in the Pottery Barn brand," Chief Executive Ed Mueller said in a statement. "Also contributing to the shortfall was a significant year-over-year increase in pre-holiday gift card sales and a greater-than-expected shift in retail sales into the week after Christmas, which is not included in our eight-week reporting period."

The company, which operates Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Hold Everything and other retail chains, said a strong response to it early spring merchandise at Pottery Barn is allowing it to keep its fourth-quarter earnings estimate in place, calling for earnings of 93 cents to 97 cents a share.

Wall Street analysts are expecting the retailer to earn 96 cents a share, according to a survey by Thomson First Call.