Target Missed the Holiday Sales Bullseye - What Happened?

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What does it mean when Target (TGT) - Get Report announces a whiff on its own holiday shopping season sales targets? 

That's what investors and analysts were scrambling to figure out after the big-box retail giant revealed that sales weren’t as strong as it had expected between the Thanksgiving and Christmas – and warned that overall growth for its full fiscal quarter is likely to ring in lower than predicted.

Sales of toys, electronics and home furnishings all rang in below where the company and analysts had been expecting, both online and in physical stores.

"We faced challenges throughout November and December in key seasonal merchandise categories and our holiday sales did not meet our expectations," said CEO Brian Cornell.

Target’s miss on its own numbers are another sign that it may not have been the blockbuster holiday shopping season retailers and investors were hoping for and expecting.

Macy's (M) - Get Report, J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get Report and Victoria's Secret parent L Brands (LB) - Get Report so far have all reported lower sales in the critical November and December months.

Costco Wholesale (COST) - Get Report is so far the last retailer standing, reporting comparable sales up 9% in the five weeks ended Jan. 5, including e-commerce and international sales.

The two biggest U.S. retailers, Walmart (WMT) - Get Report and Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report, haven't detailed their holiday results.