Over the holiday season, the so-called tween shoppers weren't all they were cracked up to be. Tween Brands ( TWB), which operates apparel chains that serve kids ages 7 to 14, cut its fourth-quarter earnings guidance late Monday, citing weaker-than-expected holiday sales. The company said it now expects to post a profit of 85 cents to 88 cents a share, down from its previous guidance of 95 cents to $1 per share. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 98 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call. Shares of Tween Brands were recently down $5.30, or 13%, to $35.75. Tween said that based on sales results for the 10-week period ended Saturday, it now expects a fourth-quarter same-store sales increase of 3% to 4%. Previously, it projected an increase in the mid-single digits. In the key holiday shopping month of December, Tween Brands said its flagship chain, Limited Too, posted flat same-store sales and lower merchandise margins, reflecting a higher level of markdowns needed to clear seasonal apparel. The company, an offshoot of Limited Brands ( LTD), last year changed its name from Too to Tween Brands in an attempt to further differentiate itself from its former parent and highlight its target audience, the "tweeners," which has been viewed as a promising demographic on Wall Street of late. Tween Brands' disappointing update follows a lackluster December for the retailing industry, as many chains reported sales results that fell below expectations. The results lend credence to a widely held view that consumers are ratcheting back on spending in the midst of a slowing economy and a slump in the U.S. housing market. Tween Brands will report its fourth-quarter results in late February.