Elsewhere in the retail sector, Kohl's said comparable sales rose 1.2 percent in November and December, drastically lower than last holiday season when the company saw comparable sales growth of almost 7 percent. Analysts have called for fiscal 2018 adjusted earnings of $5.39 per share and fourth quarter year-on-year comparable same store sales growth of 5%, based on figures compiled by Thompson Reuters. (AMZN.O). A robust economy and strong consumer spending had been expected to offer further relief.
Adding to the uncertainty is that investors will not be getting December's monthly retail sales data next week from the Commerce Department if the government shutdown is still in effect, as most observers expect.
Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics says the two combined elements were an obstruction for Macy's during the most critical period of the year for retailers.
Consumer confidence in 2019 is seen as likely to be strained by rising US interest rates, the ongoing trade spat with China, market volatility due to concerns over global growth and political deadlock in Washington.
Analysts also point to factors that hit Macy's in particular.
Macy's saw only a slight increase of 1.1 percent in sales during November-December at stores opened at least year. Macy's shares are taking the biggest beating, down more than 18 percent in early trading.
Meanwhile, Kohl's reported a small sales growth that showed a dramatic slowdown from a year ago. Its comparable sales, including licensed departments, rose 1.1 percent during November and December.
Consensus estimates are calling for $4.23 in EPS and $25.01 billion in revenue for the coming year.
Target expects same-store sales growth of about 5 percent for the fourth quarter through January, while comparable sales had grown 3.4 percent in the November-December period previous year.
Brian Cornell, Target's chairman and CEO, said, "We are very pleased with Target's holiday season performance, which came on top of really strong results in the same period a year ago".
Target said its sales were helped by higher customer visits and strong online sales during the holiday season, as well as strength in with toys, baby and seasonal gifts. Sales for merchandise ordered online and picked up at stores surged 60 percent.
Shares of Macy's Inc (M.N) plunged 17 percent in early trading on Thursday, after the department store operator cut same-store sales forecast for the full year due to weak demand during mid-December.
The retailer on Thursday lowered its annual profit guidance to between $3.95 and $4 a share, down from between $4.10 and $4.30 provided on November 14.