"Strikes and gutters, man." That's how the little Lebowski -- The Dude -- described life, and that's how this week's retail roundup seems to be going. Companies like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and budget hipster's friend Target (NYSE:TGT) knocked down some big lumber, while May Department Stores (NYSE:MAY) and Federated Department Stores (NYSE:FD) rolled some so-so numbers.

After the bell on Thursday, it was Milwaukee's own Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) turn to throw. It kept the ball out of the gutter, but only got a few pins. The firm's first-quarter numbers show a respectable 12% gain in revenues, but comps, that all-important measure of sales at existing stores, came in just below flat. To continue with the bowling analogy, that's a bit like muffing a much-needed spare.

Gross margins improved slightly, but SG&A as a percentage of sales increased a bit more than that. Inventory was comparatively slimmer that in the prior-year quarter (10 pins), but accounts receivable grew a bit more quickly than sales (five pins, open frame).

The end result was that a little thing called earnings came through at $0.33 per share, a penny above last year's results.

If you're in the excuse-making mood, you could blame April, the cruelest month. Not too long ago, everything was just hunky-dory and wallets were opening like tulips on the South Lawn. But last month, shoppers seemed to have started pinching off the old cash hose, waiting to see what's next for the economy.

Forward guidance matches up with analysts' estimates of around $2.12 per share. That puts the $42 shares at a forward P/E of around 20. That looks a bit pricey for one of the industry's current underachievers. If shoppers are in wait-and-see mode, retail investors might do well to take the same attitude.

Dish dish dish in the Fool's Retail discussion board.

Fool contributor Seth Jayson owns no shares of any companies mentioned. View his Fool profile here.