Macy's disappoints Wall Street with gloomy outlook for sales

The US department store operator Macy's dashed Wall Street hopes for strong holiday sales yesterday, with forecasts of a 1 to 2 per cent fall in fourth-quarter sales.

Its shares dived 7 per cent to a six-month low in early New York trading, although some analysts said recent hints of an economic recovery may have raised hopes too far.

"The falls in same-store sales were less dramatic than they could have been, and there are consumers shopping," said Leah Hartman at CRT Capital. "Expectations might have gotten a little ahead of themselves."

Macy's is the first in a slew of department store chains reporting this week. Despite disappointing Wall Street, Macy's improved its outlook for full-year same-store sales, forecasting a fall of 5.4 to 5.7 per cent, compared to an earlier forecast of a 6 to 8 per cent fall. In the third quarter, Macy's net loss narrowed to $35m from $44m a year ago, as sales fell 3.9 per cent to $5.28bn.