Despite heavy promotions, December sales are in a "lull," according to Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins.

"Holiday sales data are providing a series of mixed signals suggesting that overall sales may be weaker than they actually are," Perkins wrote in a Dec. 14 note.

Perkins expects December same-store sales to rise 2.9% versus 2.6% last year, in line with expectations over the last three months. However October same-store sales hit 4%, while November same-store sales slumped, rising just 1.9% -- the weakest monthly comp since March, he noted.

Fourth-quarter sales are expected to rise just 1.1%; excluding Wal-Mart, sales are expected to rise 1.5%, according to Perkins.

"There is no question that certain segments of retail are under severe stress as they fight tooth and nail for every dollar by offering steep discounts, ramping up marketing spends, expanding price matching, implementing extended layaway programs, increased spending on IT to make their omni-channel shopping experience a pleasurable one for consumers, and beefed up staffing in some instances" as big-box chains as well as specialty retailers have been feeling the pinch as consumers shift their spending habits to home and home furnishings, autos and electronics, Perkins wrote.

Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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