Shoppers carry shopping bags.
Shoppers carry shopping bags. - 
Listen To The Story

Steve Chiotakis: Word just moments from the government retail sales were flat in August. Disappointing, since August is a big month for the back-to-school crowd. Retailers look at those numbers to get a clue about what to expect for the holidays.

Sally Herships has more.

Sally Herships: Predicting trends in fashion or the fashion business can be tricky.

Erika Maschmeyer is a retail analyst at RW Baird. She says August sales numbers may help retailers figure out what to expect next.

Erika Maschmeyer: The retailers we've seen doing well and gaining market share will continue to do well and gain market share. And players that have been struggling, it's going to be very hard for them to turn things around in this environment.

Those who are doing well so far: High-end stores like Neiman Marcus and Macy's. Those who are struggling: Retailers like Kohl's and JCPenney, who cater to more budget shoppers.

But, says James Fallon, editor at Women's Wear Daily, the holiday season could bridge the gap. He says even with all the craziness in the markets, consumers aren't panicking.

James Fallon: A) Consumers are used to it. B) Retailers have figured out how to market to them. And C) Retailers have gotten their operations very much in line with consumer demand.

So Fallon says even if the holiday season isn't great, it still could be OK.

In New York, I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.