January is traditionally a blah month for retailers, filled with post-holiday sales, cold temperatures, and hopes that spring is right around the corner. This one proved no different for many, judging by the same-store sales numbers reported this morning.

Beginning with retail's big dog on the block, Wal-Mart's(NYSE: WMT) comps grew by 2.3%, below the expected 3% rise. Rival discounter Target(NYSE: TGT) didn't fare well, either, with a comps decline of 0.04%, versus an expected gain of 0.01%. And J.C. Penney's(NYSE: JCP) comps were off 3.8%.

Warehouse club Costco(Nasdaq: COST), though, saw a 5% comps increase. Kohl's(NYSE: KSS) was another winner, with a gain of 5.5%.

Specialty retailers largely performed better than the giants. Gap's(NYSE: GPS) getting the most ink today, thanks to its 16% comps rise. Put that number in context, though, given Gap's deep same-store sales slide over the last two years. A better company to applaud is Pacific Sunwear(Nasdaq: PSUN), with a 20.4% comps increase.

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) cinched a 3% comps gain, while hotter-than-hot Hot Topic(Nasdaq: HOTT) banked a 13.7% increase. American Eagle(Nasdaq: AEOS) and Aeropostale(NYSE: ARO) experienced comps growth of 2.2% and 4.6%, respectively.

Department stores weren't as lucky. Federated(NYSE: FD), parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, posted a 1.2% drop in same-store sales. May Department Stores(NYSE: MAY) recorded a 4.4% comps decline, and Saks(NYSE: SKS) saw a 2.1% drop-off.

January closes out the fourth quarter for most retailers, and as you can tell, it was something of a mixed bag. While a few companies fared well, that's largely due to cost-cutting, not significant revenue growth. We need to see that growth return before feeling assured of a strengthening retail environment.

LouAnn Lofton owns shares of Abercrombie & Fitch and Gap.