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Macy’s sales fell as it had a hard time pulling shoppers through its doors and Kohl’s reported a drop in quarterly profit Thursday, underscoring just how challenging the holiday shopping season will be for department store chains.

Like many retailers, Macy’s and Kohl’s have wrestled with weak sales as customers go online.

Macy’s Inc. reported that its third-quarter earnings more than doubled as it cut costs, which include eliminating jobs, scaling back on inventory and closing some locations.

Macy’s has been expanding into off-price stores and launched a loyalty program last month that it hopes will attract more shoppers. Still, revenue at stores open at least a year fell for the 11th straight quarter. The drop of 4 percent was worse than the 2.9 percent analysts expected.

At Kohl’s Corp., hurricanes and unseasonal weather weighed on sales, but it did have a strong back-to-school shopping season and it raised its outlook for the year. Same-store sales edged up 0.1 percent, better than the 0.6 percent decline analysts had expected. And it said business was helped by picking up market share from store closures of rivals in certain regions.

It’s been a tough year for retail overall, with store closings on pace to top the worst year of the recession and several well-known chains filing for bankruptcy.

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