Consumers Not Even Window Shopping (WMT, COST, TGT, SKS, JWN, JCP, KSS, DDS, M)

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The retail sales numbers on Main Street are truly going to hell in a hand basket.  The only bright spot is Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT), and that is just indicative of a tapped out consumer that is heading over to the trade-down shop for all their needs.  Think of it as the new general store.  Target (NYSE: TGT) and Costco (NASDAQ: COST) posted worse-than-expected sales.    If you were looking for good news out of the department stores, let’s just say that you can find great news if you pretend that those minus signs in front of each number are not really there.

Wal-Mart said U.S. same-store sales rose by +2.4% (ex-fuel), althoughthe company had projected 1% to 2% growth in its prior guidance. Salesclimbed by +2.2% at the Wal-Mart stores and by +3.6% at Sam’s Club.

Costco posted a drop at -1% in its same store sales, but the crazyanalysts were somehow expecting growth north of 3%.  The US same storesales did post a gain of +2%, but international stores died with a dropcoming in at -10%.  If you backed out currencies, that internationalnumber would have been a show of growth as well.

Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) is still in the can.  Same store sales came inat -4.8%, worse than analysts expected.  The bad news getsworse too. It now sees a drop in the range of -6% to -9% in Novembersame store figures.

Department stores look like they have started advertising free toilet seats with their shirts and pants on sale:

  • Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS) -17%
  • Nordstom, Inc. (NYSE: JWN) -15.1%
  • J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) -13%
  • Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) -9%
  • Dillard’s (NYSE: DDS) -8%
  • Macy’s (NYSE: M) -6.3%

If you were looking to save money on Christmas, it looks like all the excuses are there for you.Maybe the government will bail out the coal companies by letting us allgive each other 20 pounds of coal for gifts.

Jon C. Ogg
November 6, 2008