Per the headline, snow in December + “angst” = sales and profit misses for retailers. These misses probably could have been avoided had the analysts tracking retailers simply kept their eye on the ball.
This tracks discretionary consumer spending (excludes house, vehicle, and standard monthly bills). They include a handy download link to get all the raw data in Excel.
From this data, here’s what average consumer discretionary looked like in 4Q 2009 vs. 4Q 2010:
Daily spending dropped from $66.79 in 4Q 2009 down to $63.96 in 4Q 2010, or a drop of 4.2%. Obviously there are other factors at work in determining how this relates to stock valuation for the retail sector as a whole, but from a fundamentals standpoint, it’s probably unreasonable to make an argument for higher valuations of retail stocks in the absence of significant cost cutting measures.