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CNBC's Brennan: Holidays No Gift For Many Retailers

Milli Vanilli might “Blame It On The Rain” but retailers are singing "Blame It On the Sunshine!"

Warm weather in the Northeast is being cited as the cause of lackluster December sales. CNBC’s Margaret Brennan sifted through the numbers with Liz Claman on today’s “Morning Call.”

Here’s Margaret Brennan’s report.

Sales were not as robust as expected during what is usually the strongest spending period of the year. We knew to expect that same store sales would come in a point or two light in December and that's what we're seeing. Of those who have reported so far, according to those surveyed by Thomson Financial, 46% beat estimates and 54% missed estimates.

At Target , same store sales rose 4.1.% in December just missing 4.5% estimates.

Wal-Mart reported a sales gain of 1.6%, not as bad as the company expected (electronics sales helped growth there).

On the department store front strength was in the high end of clothing retailers. Nordstrom surprised investors to the upside with a 9% increase in same store sales. Saks was up 11% ahead of estimates but on the weak side. Federated Department Stores sales were up 4.4% - below company's own expectations of a 5.8% increase.

Why the weakness? Jeff Klinefelter at Piper Jaffray said “Customers were just not buying early seasonal categories, like apparel, sweaters, outerwear and we think that hurt retailers. We think that cut back on some of the traffic. We think a lot is yet to be seen in January.”

Many analysts are betting on gift cards believing they will allow retailers to manage their inventories and perhaps entice people to pay full price in January rather than seek out sales and discounts.