Retail stocks are having another rocky day as companies release bleak quarterly reports. It's the second day of stock market carnage in a sector that's typically seen as a key input in the economic picture.

Shares of Kohl's are down 12%, on track to close at the lowest level since 2009, after the company posted a surprise drop in sales and 87% slide in profit last quarter. Macy's is down another 3.2% after its worst drop since 2008 on Wednesday.


Another data point that will shine some light on consumer activity comes Friday with the release of Commerce Department data on retail sales. In March, sales at retail stores and restaurants fell 0.3%. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect a 0.8% rebound in April.

Downbeat sales data run counter to strong numbers on hiring in the retail sector. Monthly jobs data showed that retailers had added an average of 50,000 jobs a month between January and March, though they cut 3,100 jobs in April. That's an impressive record that could be thrown into question by the earnings and sales data, some economists say.

Here's an article dedicated to Kohl's:

Kohl's does have a lot of strengths... But Kohl's distressing first-quarter results illustrate that are still many pain points when shopping in its stores, which can be badly organized. Not to mention that Kohl's likely has too many stores after its rapid expansion several years ago. In February Kohl's said it would close 18 underperforming stores this year, representing less than 1% of its total sales, but that may not be enough, especially considering the retailer's ongoing difficulties.

"We're the most over-stored country, and there are several overwhelming problems," Davidowitz told Retail Dive earlier this year. "People have less money and this economy isn't helping. You cannot double your number of people in poverty in 10 years, build more stores, and not have some kind of gigantic shakeout. Kohl's is slowing down because the middle class is getting killed."

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