Macy's has today cut its comparable sales forecast for the Christmas quarter while year-end sales growth at rival Kohl's Corp disappointed investors.

The figures show that US retailers are continuing to struggle to keep up with a shift towards online shopping. 

Target emerged as a bright spot with a strong sales performance during November and December, but its shares were still dragged down by peers. 

Shares at Macy's tumbled 16%, Kohl's fell over 5% and Target was down over 1%. 

Macy's said weaker sales in mid-December hurt its all-important fourth quarter, but did not detail the reasons. 

"The holiday season began strong - particularly during Black Friday and the following Cyber week, but weakened during the mid-December period and did not return to expected patterns until the week of Christmas," said Jeff Gennette, chairman and chief executive officer at Macy's. 

The department store chain slashed its comparable sales growth forecast for its final fiscal quarter, and now expects 2% growth, down from a previous outlook of 2.3-2.5% growth. 

Kohl's reported anemic comparable sales growth of 1.2% during the final two months of 2018, down from 6.9% a year earlier. 

The disappointing performance comes even as sales for the 2018 US Christmas shopping season rose to its strongest level in six years, according to a Mastercard report in late December, which said shoppers were encouraged by a robust economy and early discounts. 

Target benefited from this surge in spending and said comparable sales grew 5.7% during November and December, helped by higher customer visits and strong online sales during the festive season.  

Target expects same-store sales growth of about 5% for the fourth quarter up to January, while comparable sales had grown 3.4% in the November-December period last year. 

All of the retailer's core categories grew during the holiday season, with toys, baby and seasonal gift items being the strongest. 

Target also reaffirmed its full-year earnings and sales forecast, putting it on track for the strongest full-year comparable sales growth since 2005. 

It said store pickup and drive-up surged more than 60% from a year ago, and accounted for a quarter of the company's digital sales in the holiday period. 

The retailer also expects 2018 to be the fifth consecutive year in which its online sales grew more than 25%.