Is penny-pinching going out of style this holiday season?

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) announced that comps fell 0.1% for the month of November. It was actually worse than that at the namesake concept, as a 2% gain at the company's Sam's Club warehouse clubs helped mask a steeper 0.5% slide in same-store sales at Wal-Mart units. It may not seem like much, but Wal-Mart isn't used to taking steps back at the store level, and the telltale month of December isn't going to get much better. The leading discount department store chain is now looking for next month's sales growth at the store level to be somewhere between flat and up a mere 1%.

This follows an announcement from thrift-store giant Dollar General (NYSE:DG) that it would be closing 400 stores next year. Is the economy doing so poorly that we can't even afford to be cheap, or is it doing so well that the thrifty have moved up to pricier joints?

Believe it or not, the answer is probably neither of those two. For starters, a decent chunk of Wal-Mart's business has simply migrated online. This morning, Wal-Mart also announced that traffic at is up 60% over last year's holiday shopping season. You also have Target (NYSE:TGT) chiming in this morning with November comps that seem to defy Wal-Mart's lackluster showing. The country's second-largest discounter posted a 5.9% spike in comps for November and is looking for the crucial December period to deliver same-store sales growth of 3.5% to 5.5%.

The restructuring at Dollar General may sting, but it's not indicative of what's going on at rival discounters. Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) posted a decent 2.5% gain in comps for the month of November. Closeout specialist Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) posted better-than-expected quarterly results on healthy comps earlier this month, too. Buck retailer Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) also sprouted welcome top-line gains last week.

So don't worry, fellow fans of thrifty living. Your havens are generally doing well as we head into the holiday home stretch. It's apparently just you this time, Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree are Inside Value newsletter service stock recommendations. Family Dollar is a Stock Advisor selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still can't understand why his local South Florida Wal-Mart locations are such a chore to go to, while he always has a great time at the Central Florida locations. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.