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Macy’s, Inc. (M), Target Corporation (TGT): There’s No Holiday Cheer in Sears Holdings Corporation (SHLD)’ Early Christmas Push

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It’s not the first time Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD) has pushed the envelope by using Christmas in its advertising earlier than what would be considered seemly. For example, a few years ago, it created an online shop called “Christmas Lane” that appeared in July, but the limited nature of that move kept the rancor down.

Not so today. This week, Kmart really went beyond the pale by running TV ads promoting its Christmas layaway services just as kids were returning to school.

Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD)According to the folks at AdAge, at 105 days before the holiday, it marks the earliest time ever a retailer has tried to juice its sales by using Christmas in its advertising. While the story goes on to note that the National Retail Federation says some shoppers do start this early — 12% actually begin Christmas shopping before September, while another 6% use the start of the school year to get a head start on their seasonal excess — Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD)’ attempt to capture that early mindshare had consumers and critics alike lamenting the lack of propriety surrounding the effort. Apparently, its Facebook page lit up with people crying, “Too soon!”

Retailers, though, are offering up cautious guidance for the back end of 2013. Consumers are apparently reluctant to go to excess with their spending, and that may cause them to follow Kmart’s lead in advancing holiday creep.

Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) reported earnings that rose 7% year over year, but those were well below analyst expectations, leaving it to cut its outlook for the rest of the year. It lowered its fiscal 2013 earnings estimates to a range of $3.80 to $3.90 per share versus its prior guidance of $3.90 to $3.95 per share.

Similarly, Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) reported earnings that were at the top of its guidance for the second quarter, even as comps were lower than anticipated, but now says its full-year adjusted profits will come in at the low end of the guidance it gave of $4.70 to $4.90 per share. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) as well took the opportunity of its latest earnings report to scale back expectations, cutting its full-year outlook to $5.10 to $5.30, compared with the $5.20-to-$5.40-per-share view previously offered. As CEO Mike Duke noted, “The retail environment was challenging across all of our markets.”

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