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Is the consumer weak, or is it just bad retailing?

Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 | 11:09 AM ET
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

What's up with retail? Now Wal-Mart disappoints.

Both Wal-Mart and Kohl's guided lower a day after Macy's did the same yesterday.

Wal-Mart said "the retail environment was challenging across all of our markets."

Earnings were in line with expectations, but revenues were light.

Same-store sales dropped 0.3 percent, well below expectations of a gain of 1 percent. Q3 guidance of $1.11 to $1.16 is below expectations, as is full year guidance of $5.10-$5.30, below previous guidance of $5.20-$5.40.

And 2014 sales were lowered to two to three percent, from previous guidance of a five to six percent gain.

Remember, Wal-Mart is 20 percent of total retail sales of publicly held companies.

What to expect from retail earnings
Retail sectors have a big month ahead with both earnings and back-to-school season. David Berman of Durban Capital shares how investors will be watching shoppers. "Retail is weak—not the consumer," he said.

David Berman of Berman Capital, who appeared with my colleague David Faber on Squawk on the Street on Monday, said retail earnings would be "horrible," and so far he is right.

Bad in department stores like Macy's. Now bad in the biggest discounters like Wal-mart. And we know teen retailers are bad already.

Berman made an interesting point: the consumer is not that weak, the traditional retailers are weak. Consumers are are buying cars, houses, and they are buying goods on the Internet from companies like Amazon.

And they are buying home improvement items from companies like Home Depot and Lowe's, which will be out next week.

But not from traditional retailers.

It wasn't a completely bad morning for retailers. Dillard's beat but revenues were light.

Kohl's reported in-line earnings, but cut 2014 EPS and Q3 EPS guidance was below expectations. The same store guidance was 0 to 2 percent for the current quarter, so there is some hope guidance might be conservative.

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