NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Federated Department Stores Inc. forecast sluggish sales for November Monday while J.C. Penney Inc. said it sees a slight improvement.
Retailers are bracing for a disappointing holiday season as many consumers react to job worries, the possibility of war with Iraq and other uncertain economic news. Also affecting holiday sales this year is a calendar shift that makes Thanksgiving fall a week later, cutting short the holiday shopping season.
Wal-Mart and Federated said the shift will make November sales seem even worse than expected because the results from so-called Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days of the year -- will be pushed into December, based on their sales reporting calendars.
Wal-Mart said in a pre-recorded call Monday that November sales are tracking at the low end of its expectations for a 2 to 4 percent increase from a year earlier.
Shares of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart (WMT: down $0.82 to $54.67, Research, Estimates) were down slightly in New York Stock Exchange trading Monday.
Meanwhile Federated Department Stores (FD: down $0.71 to $32.15, Research, Estimates), parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, which disclosed disappointing sales for the second week of November, said it expects sales for the combined November/December period will be flat to down 2.5 percent. The company also said November sales will be down 2.5 to 4.5 percent from a year ago because of the later Thanksgiving. December sales are forecast at up 1 percent to down 2 percent
Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney (JCP: down $0.30 to $22.80, Research, Estimates) said Monday its department store sales are on track to be flat or up slightly for November, helped by women's and children's apparel. The company also said sales at its Eckerd drugstore chain are on track for a 6 percent November gain. Catalog sales are expected to be down 10 to 15 percent for the month.