We delivered our second consecutive year of positive holiday comparable sales, driven largely by the traction of our strategic initiatives: Backstage, Vendor Direct, Store Pickup, Loyalty and Growth50. The retailer's shares fell almost 9 percent following Thursday morning's report.
Macy's said its comparable-store sales increased 0.7 percent in November and December, down from the 1 percent growth it achieved last Christmas.
Meanwhile, Kohl's reported a small sales growth that showed a dramatic slowdown from a year ago. Despite the solid performance, Target's shares dipped almost 5 percent on Thursday.
Target said its sales were helped by higher customer visits and strong online sales during the holiday season, as well as strength in with toys, baby and seasonal gifts.
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Target, Nordstrom and troubled J.C. Penney fell in sympathy. But because Macy's is considered a barometer of spending, particularly for the middle class and for mall spending, investors may be looking for deeper meaning in its performance.
Macy's Inc. shares plunged 18 percent on Thursday after the department store operator slashed its full-year profit and sales forecast on the back of an anemic holiday season, sending a chill through the wider retail sector.
Macy's, specifically, pointed to a holiday season that started off well, but languished. "There is a lot of uncertainty out there".
Urban Outfitters has reported record holiday sales for the two months ended 31 December. Saunders said investors are also anxious that a recovery among traditional stores like Macy's is losing momentum, raising concerns that they might have to ramp up investments even more to increase sales. Its comparable sales, including licensed departments, rose 1.1 percent during November and December.
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Macy's "also suffered from execution issues in its promotional strategy and fulfillment", according to Christina Boni, Department Store analyst at Moody's.
Before Christmas, retailers had been expecting a strong sales period, with less post-November discounting and higher price points. It also operates SuperTarget stores with a line of food and general merchandise items and offers an assortment of general merchandise, including many items found in the company's stores and a complementary assortment, such as extended sizes and colors, sold only online. It previously told investors to expect up to 2.5 percent growth in comparable store sales including revenue from licensing partners.
The numbers haven't discouraged the Kohl's team though; the department store is actually increasing expectations for fiscal 2018 earnings per share to fall within a range of $5.50 to $5.55, up from a prior range of $5.35 to $5.55. The maintained outlook may have disappointed investors.
The retailer is now calling for diluted earnings per share of $3.95 to $4.00 for fiscal 2018, excluding settlement charges, impairment and other costs.
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