TWO DISCOUNTERS: This holiday season, shoppers will see a tale of two discounters. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said it expects its fourth-quarter profit to miss Wall Street estimates as shoppers grapple with an uncertain economy. Meanwhile, rival Target Corp. issued an outlook for the holiday shopping season that exceeds analysts' expectations.
BEHIND THE FORECASTS: Wal-Mart caters to a low income customer who has yet to benefit from any small improvements in the economy. Target's customers are more affluent. Wal-Mart caters to families with average household income that ranges from $30,000 to $60,000. Target says its customers' median household income is $64,000.
WHAT'S NEXT: The two retailers are bellwethers that offer valuable insight into how consumers will be spending during the busiest shopping period of the year.