NEW YORK (AP) — Several of the nation's largest retailers cut their earnings forecasts Thursday after lingering summer weather and an uncertain economy kept consumers from shopping last month and left the big merchants with disappointing sales.

As the store owners reported September sales figures Thursday, the biggest losers were apparel sellers including Limited Brands Inc. and Gap Inc. Target Corp., J.C. Penney Co., Limited Brands Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. were among those lowering their earnings outlooks.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. posted a modest sales gain that was slightly below analysts' expectations, but raised its third-quarter profit outlook because of cost-cutting.

"Sales are coming in soft, as expected," said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a research company in Swampscott, Mass. "It was a perfect storm, a combination of abnormally warm weather, high food and energy prices, a continued sluggish housing marketing and tight credit."

Perkins added that if sales don't pick up, stores will be forced to slash prices to get rid of inventory and make room for holiday merchandise that will start to flow into stores this month.