The Dow Jones Industrial Average skidded 1.86 percent to 12,589.07, shedding more than 600 points since the start of 2008. The broader S&P 500 declined 1.84 percent to 1,390.19. The Retail Index reached its lowest mark in three years, dropping 2.3 percent to end the day at 372.88.
Teen retailers Aéropostale Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. both saw declines, down 3.26 percent to $26.43 and 2.45 percent to $73.72, respectively. Shares of American Eagle Outfitters Inc. reached a new 52-week low, plummeting 5.27 percent to end the day at $17.78.
Zumiez Inc. continued trading lower after reporting disappointing same-store sales Monday. The action sports retailer closed down 3.72 percent to $16.31.
Specialty retailer Gap Inc. fell 3.45 percent to $19.33, while Baby Boomer retailer Coldwater Creek Inc. dropped 9.61 percent to $5.74.
Midtier department stores also were hit hard as shares of Macy's Inc. fell 4.55 percent to $21.82, Sears Holdings Corp. declined 4.74 percent to $96.31, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. decreased 3.27 percent to $34.57 and Kohl's Corp. dropped 3.52 percent to $39.78.
Not even high-end retailers were immune. Saks Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. each declined 4.51 percent to end the day at $17.35 and $31.58, respectively.
J. Crew Group was one of the few exceptions, closing up 1.4 percent to $42.10. Tween Brands Inc., which reported December same-store sales up 9 percent, saw its shares rise 5.85 percent to $28.06.