Investors were hoping for some relief on Wall Street on Thursday morning as the stock market tried to recover from losses earlier in the week. The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.52%) opened slightly higher when the regular trading session began, although those gains weren't enough to get the index back to where it started the week.

One area weighing on investor sentiment is the retail sector, where companies have been giving mixed signals on how the holiday season is likely to go. Sportsman's Warehouse Holdings (SPWH -0.65%) and Liquidity Services (LQDT 0.06%) aren't exactly household names for many investors, but what they had to say in their latest financial reports shed some light on the broader retail industry and its prospects for the rest of the year and beyond.

Sportsman's Warehouse misses the target

Shares of Sportsman's Warehouse Holdings moved lower by 5% early Thursday. The specialty outdoor goods and equipment retailer reported fiscal third-quarter financial results for the period ending Oct. 29, and shareholders weren't entirely comfortable with the declines they saw in key business metrics.

Sportsman's Warehouse continued to face tough conditions that have plagued it all year. Net revenue fell 10% year over year to $360 million, with the company saying that it experienced lower demand across most of its product categories. Inflationary pressures on consumers and worries about a potential economic recession weighed on customer behavior. Same-store sales fell an even steeper 15% from year-ago levels, with the opening of 11 new stores in the past 12 months helping to reduce the hit to overall company revenue.

Sportsman's Warehouse's bottom-line performance also failed to provide much relief. Adjusted net income came in at $13.1 million, down 42% year over year, and adjusted earnings of $0.34 per share dropped by a third and failed to meet expectations among those following the stock.

Looking ahead, Sportsman's Warehouse expects inflationary and macroeconomic pressure to continue weighing on its results, although it will keep managing its costs to compensate. Moreover, the outdoor goods retailer sees fiscal 2023 having more promise, and it intends to accelerate the opening of more stores by adding 13 to 18 new locations in the coming year. Even so, investors don't seem totally convinced that Sportsman's Warehouse will be entirely successful, particularly given all the uncertainty about the economy right now.

Liquidity Services takes an earnings hit

Elsewhere, shares of Liquidity Services opened lower but rebounded to gain 4% early in Thursday's trading session. The retail consignment and liquidation specialist saw its volume of merchandise rise significantly in its fiscal fourth quarter ending Sept. 30, but profits decreased markedly from year-ago levels.

The numbers from Liquidity Services were mixed. Gross merchandise volume for the quarter rose 16% year over year to $283 million, with the company's digital marketplace solutions gaining more traction among government and private business users. A shift in business mix toward more consignment work limited revenue growth somewhat, but sales still climbed 7% to $75.2 million. That's consistent with the nature of the business, in which tough economic times can actually spur greater use of the company's platform.

Liquidity Services' bottom line didn't match up with its upbeat sales figures. Adjusted net income dropped by nearly a third to $6.4 million, working out to $0.19 per share. The company attributed the drop in profits largely to a rise in its tax rate, which in turn reflects the release of deferred tax assets that had kept its income tax costs lower in previous periods.

Liquidity Services tried to stay optimistic about the future, projecting better results in early 2023 than in the same period this year. However, numerous economic and business uncertainties could hurt the company, and that's putting pressure on shareholders even as they hope that the business will hold up well in an economic slowdown.