Just because we're kicking off a short trading week doesn't mean that it will be running short on earnings reports. Tomorrow, Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) and Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) are set to announce their quarterly results. Thursday will bring Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Ciena (NASDAQ:CIEN), Qwest (NYSE:Q), and Nextel (NASDAQ:NXTL) up to the bean-counting podium.

However, the one sector that will really be strutting its stuff this week is retail. On Thursday, you will be getting a broad snapshot of the shopping landscape when bellwethers Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), and Target (NYSE:TGT) report.

Sure, we already know how retailers fared over the vital holiday shopping season. They all announced their comps last month. However, we still don't know how profitable those sales were, and it will be interesting to see what the companies think of their prospects here in 2004.

The beauty of having discounters such as Wal-Mart and Target report on the same day as more traditional high-end retailers such as Nordstrom is for comparison of consumer tastes. Have shoppers been favoring thrifty or more lavish spending styles? The discounters fared well even as the economy slowed, while department store chains put in a spotty performance.

So, they will be putting up their quarterly displays for all to see this week. Let's make it a date to go window shopping then, shall we?

Will Wal-Mart continue to dominate as the economy improves, or will it be time for the high-end retailers to fight back? Has Wal-Mart gotten too big? Is it a model citizen or a menace to society? All this and more -- in the Wal-Mart discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't mind shopping, though he hasn't been ringing up any of these stocks lately. He does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.