Retail Stocks Haunted by Ghost of Christmas Past

December 26, 2012 11:45 AM EST
Investors took retail sector stocks to the woodshed on Wednesday after report by MasterCard's SpendingPulse unit showed shopping increased just 0.7 percent compared to last year. If true, this would be the slowest growth rate since 2008. Early reports on holiday spending called for a much larger pickup, especially in light of robust Black Friday sales. The issue is being further complicated by an expected increase in gift card giving, which some predict will offset declines as recipients hit the malls. Investors, however, aren't taking any chances, as they remain haunted by recent trouble in the sector.

Shares of a number of retailers are on the ropes this morning, including big box retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT). Brown Shoe Co. Inc. (NYSE: BWS), Coach, Inc. (NYSE: COH) and Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq: LULU) are also under pressure.

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