The nation's retailers saw their sales plummet last month to the weakest October level since 1969, as the financial crisis and mounting layoffs left shoppers too scared to shop, according to Reuters. The stunning drop, from an already weak September, is further darkening the outlook for the holiday season and raising more concerns about the financial health of the industry, which is not expected to see a recovery until at least the second half of 2009. A number of stores, including J.C. Penney and Nordstrom, cut their profit predictions as they slashed prices on everything from coats to holiday ornaments in order to pull in shoppers. Analysts expect a sink-or-swim holiday season for retailers, which have already seen competitors like Mervyns and Linens 'N Things forced to liquidate. Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest retailer, was among the few with a healthy outlook, as it benefits from the ability to dictate prices to producers and keep wages at rock-bottom levels through anti-union practices and government entitlements. Among department stores, JC Penney reported a 13 percent drop in sales; Macy's reported a 6.3 percent drop for October. Nordstrom's sales fell 15.7 percent and Saks recorded a 16.6 percent drop, Even teens stayed away from malls. American Eagle Outfitters reported a steeper-than-expected 12 percent drop in same-store sales, while Abercrombie & Fitch had a 20 percent drop.