Earnings in the retail sector are poised to drop 6.8 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of last year, according to data from Retail Metrics obtained by Retail Dive.

If indeed retail earnings fall about 7 percent, it would be the largest decline since the fourth quarter of 2013, when earnings fell 7.1 percent. Retail Metrics president Ken Perkins called it a “cruel” quarter for the industry, which has been rocked by bankruptcies and a rash of store closing by nationwide retailers. The projection excludes earnings from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT


Retail’s growing list of bankruptcies this year already count Wet Seal, BCBG Max Azria, Payless ShoeSource, Gordmans Stores and HHGregg. Other retailers like Macy’s Inc. (M