US Christmas retail sales slide

US retailers saw disappointing sales in December’s key Christmas trading period and lowered their earnings forecasts as consumers cut spending.
Discount giant Wal-Mart saw sales miss forecasts, rising 1.7% year-on-year, as against predictions of 2.8%.
The firm said it expected earnings per share for the fourth quarter to the end of January to miss earlier estimates.
Other retailers, including clothes chain J Crew, are also warning of lower earnings for the fourth quarter.
Wal-Mart is predicting earnings of 91 cents to 94 cents a share in the fourth quarter, instead of the $1.03 to $1.07 that was previously forecast.
„Due to the difficult economy and severe winter weather in some regions, the holiday season was more challenging for retailers than expected,“ said Wal-Mart vice-chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright.
Limited Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret among others, saw December sales drop 10% year on year – more than expected.
It is predicting that fourth-quarter earnings will be in the region of 55 to 70 cents per share, below analysts’ expectations of 88 cents.
And jewellery retailer Zale saw sales in December decline 22% in December year-on-year, saying the holiday period was the „most difficult in memory“.
Many analysts believe conditions will remain tough for the months ahead, amid continued uncertainty over the economy.

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