Wal-Mart said a few days ago that they thought their sales would be flat through this year's holiday season. But that seems to have been an optimistic projection. In last weekend's kickoff to the holiday retail season, Wal-Mart's sales were actually 0.1% below last year's same-store sales.
This caused a 158 point tumble on Wall Street, as investers feared that overall holiday sales in America might might not be as good as was expected. Retailers had expected a 5% rise in holiday sales this year.
But Wal-Mart might not be a good indicator of how sales will go this year, as it has been in the past. Malls and other retailers actually had a good weekend, posting a robust 6% increase in sales.
Just because Wal-Mart is showing a drop in sales, doesn't mean that all retailer's sales figures will be down. Maybe people are starting to tire of Wal-Mart's employee abuses and shoddy merchandise. Maybe people are starting to realize that you really do get what you pay for, and they're willing to pay for service and quality.
We'll find out in the next few weeks.