Saks is the latest retailer to disappoint investors with weaker-than-expected earnings and lackluster sales, fanning fears about about how the sector will fare heading into a heavy week of earnings.
While the consumer is beginning to spend again on larger ticket purchases like home furnishings and vehicles, spending on apparel and smaller discretionary items seems to have slowed this summer. In addition to the overall trends in consumer purchasing, cooler-than-normal weather has been blamed by some retailers for crimping sales of spring and summer seasonal goods. However, many analysts said they expect consumers are just waiting to spend closer to need, and that the back half of the year will be more robust. Many retailers though, seem to be hedging forecasts and issuing conservative guidance, just in case.
(Read more: Sorry retailers, can't blame the weather this time)
Ninety-two percent of S&P 500 companies have already reported second-quarter earnings, but many of retail's biggest marquee names are releasing earnings this week, including J.C. Penney, Home Depot, Lowe's and Williams-Sonoma. Teen retailers will release full results, though Aeropostale and American Eagle already said sales were weaker than expected earlier in the season.
So far, there have been disappointments from expected strong points Macy's and Nordstrom, and a downbeat view of the global consumer from Wal-Mart has many concerned about what's to come from the rest of the retail pack.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters estimate aggregate retail same-store sales growth for the second quarter will show a gain of 1.9 percent, matching second-quarter 2012.