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The camouflage continues to drop like the leaves off of the trees. As we noted earlier today, the anecdotal evidence is quite telling (if you look beyond the parking lot).

The data's decline is now to the point where the cheerleaders have nothing left to spin:

"Wal-Mart said it expects its October sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, to increase just 0.5%. That is short of the 2% to 4% increase the company forecasted early in the month, and would mark the slimmest gain it has reported since December 2000. Wal-Mart saw a 0.3% increase at its namesake stores and a rise of 2% at its Sam's Club locations in October. The company said it expects flat U.S. same-store sales for November. Shares declined 1.4% in pre-market trading."

Bloomberg noted the Wal-Mart forecast is for the "worst results in more than 10 years." But its not just Wal-Mart:

"According to Thomson Financial, based on 50 merchants that have reported same-store sales so far on Thursday, 28 retailers had results that missed expectation; 22 beat estimates.

"There are some signs of strength in these reports, but clearly there were more companies missing expectations," said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a research firm in Swampscott, Mass, who said he was surprised by the results."

Its all good. Back out the companies that missed expectations, and there is lots of strength in retail.

I don't know what to make of this chart, but the colors sure are purty:

retail sales
Source: WSJ

Sources:
Wal-Mart Outlook May Damp Holiday
As Retailers Post Mixed October Sales

KRIS HUDSON
WSJ, November 2, 2006 9:19 a.m.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116240923193810442.html

Charting Sales: Autumn Mix
http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-retail06-061102.html

Retail sales sputter
Specialty retailers a mixed bag; sales choked at Wal-Mart
Pier 1 suffers another double-digit decline.

Parija B. Kavilanz
CNNMoney.com,  November 2 2006: 8:39 AM EST
http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/02/news/economy/retail_sales/index.htm

Wal-Mart Expects Unchanged November Same-Store Sales
Lauren Coleman-Lochner
Bloomberg, November 2, 2006
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=arbjp6p9RZ7I&

Retailers miss the mark on October sales
Wal-Mart weighs on results; department stores stage a comeback
Dan Burrows
MarketWatch, Nov 2, 2006, 11:03 AM ET
http://tinyurl.com/y82n2c

Source: Retail Weakness: So Much for the 'Cheaper Gas Effect'