As the retail editor for The Motley Fool, I scan the morning news for interesting stories. Today, I'm perplexed. Here's why.

One headline on Yahoo! Finance read "Retail Sales Rise Sharply in September." Cool. That should make finding news events to share with our writers easier.

Target (NYSE:TGT) reported a 6.7% increase in September same-store sales (ahead of the 5% it was initially expecting) and said earnings should come in above the median analyst estimate. Mr. Market's reaction? Nothing as of mid-day. Nada. Zilch.

That's weird. I thought the news said results were good. So I fished around for a bit to see what other information I could find. Checking the top 25 decliners on the NYSE, I was amazed to find 12 of the 25 tickers were for retailers. Here are the biggest losers as of 1:15PM.

Sept. SSS

% Decline

Dillard's (NYSE:DDS)



Haverty Furniture (NYSE:HVT)



New York & Co. (NYSE:NWY)



BJ's Wholesale Club (NYSE:BJ)



Aeropostale (NYSE:ARO)



And, unfortunately, the list goes on and on.

Same-store sales are supposed to be the best measure of retailer health. For the companies I've reported on, the numbers were pretty good. The $64,000 question is, why the lack of response from the market?

Maybe investors didn't like that sales transactions were down 2.9% at Hidden Gems recommendation New York & Co., even though the average ticket was up 5.3% and gross margins expanded for the month. At BJ's, analysts were expecting a 2.3% increase, and clearly that didn't happen.

Come to think of it, I reckon I would have to chalk up all the declines to expectations. Investors must have been expecting more from these companies. When expectations increase, prices tend to go up because investors are willing to pay more for the anticipated higher future performance.

That's a dangerous game to play, because prices fall when expectations aren't met. And it's certainly no fun to set 5%-10% haircuts on stock prices in one day.

I don't know exactly why prices for these retailers have gone down today when results seemed to be pretty good. But typically, when prices fall on seemingly good results, expectations must not have been met.

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Retail editor and Inside Value team member David Meier does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. You can take the newsletter for a 30-day free spin. David's profile is here. The Fool takes its disclosure policy very seriously.