imageNEW YORK: Worries about a weak holiday shopping season hit retail-sector equities Monday, pushing US stocks lower at the start of a heavy news week.

Most leading retailers finished down, with global behemoth Wal-Mart Stores losing 1.8 percent and big-box rival Target falling 1.3 percent.

Others to decline included Macy's, Gap and Williams-Sonoma. Online shopping giant Amazon lost 1.3 percent.

Best Buy was among the few winners, rising 1.0 percent.

For the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 78.57 points (0.44 percent) to 17,719.92.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 9.70 (0.46 percent) to 2,080.41, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 18.86 (0.37 percent) to 5,108.67.

“The concern is that the consumer isn't going to show up," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

A weekend report from analytics company ShopperTrack estimated lower sales in brick-and-mortar stores on “Black Friday," compared with last year.

However, Hogan said such benchmarks have become less telling because of the growth of online sales and the lengthening out of the shopping season.

“We're probably in a very average Christmas shopping season and we're probably going to look at it at first blush and say, 'Oh, this is very disappointing,'" he said.

The market decline kicked off a busy news week that includes European Central Bank meeting, speeches by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and the US October jobs report.

“Investors are looking ahead to Friday's jobs report, which is the last report we'll get prior to the Fed's decision in December," said David Levy, portfolio manager at Kenjol Capital Management. “We're primarily in a holding pattern until then."

Office supply chain Office Depot fell 2.4 percent and its rival Staples lost 2.0 percent on the heels of a New York Post report that US antitrust regulators will try to block their merger.

Yoga-attire maker Lululemon Athletica sank 8.9 percent following a downgrade from FBR Capital Markets.

Lockheed Martin fell 3.0 percent following a downgrade from Barclays.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015