As my Foolish colleague Seth Jayson mentioned earlier today, it was irritating to watch the media hype surrounding Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) bleak September comps report. So-called "expert analysts" gawked over the 1.4% increase in same-store sales. Apparently, the results brought a sense of "relief" concerning the outlook on the entire economy. Thanks to Wal-Mart, literally every retailer was trading up this morning.

It just doesn't make sense. The company recently lowered its yearly earnings guidance. Now, two months later, it boosts its outlook for the third quarter, and Wall Street believes this has miraculously lessened concerns about the economy? Wal-Mart only improved its outlook because it was able to pass on additional inflationary food costs to its consumers. Now investors are just plain living in retail fantasyland.

And check out this quote regarding Wal-Mart, posted by Bob Pisani on CNBC's website: "They raised their guidance, reminding everyone that it is still the BOTTOM LINE, not the TOP LINE that truly matters."

OK, Bob, we know the bottom line counts. And sure, Wal-Mart is doing a nice job of managing its initial margins and expense leverage. But revenue is important, and seeing that the company's sales came from food and pharmacy -- not apparel or home goods -- offers no indication that our economy is doing just fine.

Aside from its impact on the rest of the market, Wal-Mart has been struggling to please its customers. Despite what Wall Street deems "impressive," these comps were nothing to boast about, and the company has more to blame than just the general economy. Consumers are flocking to stores like Costco (NASDAQ:COST) -- helping the company deliver bulk joy yesterday -- and Target (NYSE:TGT), though it did just post comps slightly lower than Wal-Mart's.

I have to hand it to Wal-Mart, though. Its measly rise in comps made quite a statement throughout the world of retail, and I'm betting that a lot of retailers -- particularly Gap (NYSE:GPS) and Wet Seal (NASDAQ:WTSLA) -- owe it a debt of gratitude for masking their own paltry results. The market has pulled back from its irrational exuberance, though today's sales reports should have sent it tumbling from the very beginning. You're in for a rude awakening if you believe that results like these will drive the entire market into a state of lasting optimism.

Wal-Mart and Gap are Inside Value picks. Gap and Costco are Stock Advisor selections. Both are available for free 30-day trials.

Retail and Consumer Goods editor Kristin Graham does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.