Major retail chains posted disappointing October sales as consumers, stunned by a financial crisis that threatened to derail the U.S. economy, shunned all but the most crucial of purchases.
According to a preliminary tally of 16 retailers that had reported results on Thursday morning, Thomson Reuters said 60 percent missed expectations, while 33 percent beat.
The October sales come as retailers head into what could be the weakest holiday season in two decades. While Thanksgiving weekend later this month traditionally marks the launch of the holiday shopping crush, retailers were already introducing discounts and sales to spur early buying.
To win more market share during the crucial holiday selling season, Wal-Mart said it will introduce new price cuts every week until Christmas, reducing prices on thousands of items, such as toys and food.
And that leads to our Fast Money Reader Poll. How will your Holiday spending compare this year to years past?
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CNBC.com with wires