Updated from 9:04 a.m. ESTThe holiday shopping season shaped up to be a mixed bag for retailers, as several chain stores reported tepid December same-store sales amid heavy markdowns. With 55 out of 56 retailers reporting their same-store sales results, 46% of them beat Wall Street's estimates, and 54% missed expectations, according to Thomson First Call. It marked the third month in a row that the majority of retailers missed analysts' projections. "I'd have to categorize this as a bit disappointing," says Ken Perkins, president of the research firm Retail Metrics. "Overall holiday spending is somewhat subdued, and that's a little concerning heading into 2007. Sales got off to a slow start, and the final surge wasn't enough to get them over the hump." Many companies blamed warmer-than-expected temperatures, which cut into sales of winter apparel and goods, as a reason for the sales shortfall. Analysts also suggested that the weak housing market played a role. "The consumer is weak," says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of the retail consulting and investment-banking firm Davidowitz & Associates. "The consumer has record debt, negative savings, and they can't take their money out of their homes ... we've had a deceleration in residential home values, and that's the consumer's biggest asset." Perkins also said that a strong increase in gift card sales, which are usually redeemed in January, have siphoned sales from December.