Even industry executives can't figure out what's wrong with retail.
After posting their steepest quarterly same-store sales declines since the recession, management at both Kohl's and Macy's said they were scratching their heads over the disconnect between the improving economy, and a pullback in traffic and spending at their stores in the first quarter.
During a conference call with analysts on Thursday, Kohl's CEO Kevin Mansell said the company is having a "hard time determining" how much of its 3.9 percent comparable-sales drop was related to company-specific issues versus the broader economy.
In that vein, Macy's CFO Karen Hoguet on Wednesday told analysts that the management team at the department store, where comparable sales slipped 5.6 percent during the quarter, was "scratching our heads" regarding the chain's soft results.
"I would say that we too are somewhat puzzled by the data that we're seeing on the consumer and the traffic were seeing," she said.