Retail exchange traded funds (ETFs) are looking more like Halloween fright instead of holiday merriment. Retailers announced disappointing October sales, thanks to consumers’ ongoing fears about housing and the rising cost of energy, according to Anne D’Innocenzio of the Associated Press.

The SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) is down 3.99% year-to-date, but among its holdings is one of the few bright spots among retailers: Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST), which had a 9% gain. That’s a sign that when consumers are out shopping, they’re on the prowl for the best deals.

PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) is down 8.61% year-to-date. Among its top holdings is Nordstrom (JWN), which, like many other other mall-based apparel stores, is down. Retail HOLDRs (RTH) is up 0.82% year-to-date.

There’s seven weeks left of holiday shopping. Will the end result be a lump of coal or a festive surprise?

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.