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Holiday Trimming: Retail Sales Estimates Come Down

Think of it as a new type of holiday trimming.

PKeleher

In the wake of dismal sales from retailers, the International Council of Shopping Centers cut its forecast for the holiday season, which it issued only two weeks ago.

Despite the best efforts of retailers to get out in front of the crucial holiday season with an early launch of the hefty discounts and seasonal decorations, U.S. retailers marked their weakest October performance on record, according to the ICSC.

For October, overall same-store sales dropped 0.9 percent from October, the weakest reading for any October since the series originated more than 35 years ago. And that's including a solid performance from Wal-Mart Stores .

Without Wal-Mart, retail sales plummeted 4.2 percent, the largest monthly drop since 1991 when ICSC began tracking that data.

For the holiday sales period from November through December, ICSC expects same-store sales to rise just 1 percent from a year earlier, down from an earlier forecast of 1.7 percent.

Sales for November will be roughly unchanged from last year, the group said.

The lower forecast only reinforces what many were already assuming about this year's holiday season: Retailers will need to offer shoppers generous promotions to get them to shop.

So watch out luxury retailers, consumers will favor discounters and wholesalers. Oh, and apparel retailers, pray for cold weather this month, or those sweaters are going to sit.

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