Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 16:43 UK

US retailers report dismal sales

Shoppers at Saks
US retailers are being hit by the economic slowdown

Some of the US's best-known retailers have reported poor sales for September, as consumers continue to tighten their belts during the economic slowdown.

Department store group JC Penny was hit hard, with same-store sales down 12.4% compared with the same month last year.

At upmarket rival Saks, sales were down 8.3%, while those at American Eagle Outfitters fell by 6%.

Even lost-cost retailers Wal-Mart and Costco Wholesale failed to meet Wall Street estimates.

Stormy conditions

Online retailer Target Corp also reported disappointing same-store sales - down 3% - and cut its earnings forecast as defaults on the company's credit cards surged.

Everybody across the board is feeling it. Even discounters are going to have a tough go
Ken Perkins, president, RetailMetrics

Wal-Mart reported a 2.4% gain in like-for-like sales, just below analyst expectations of a 2.5% rise.

The company blamed the disappointing performance on hurricanes Ike, Gustav and Hanna, which forced it to close 341 stores temporarily, as well as on the worsening economic climate.

Costco's sales were up 7%, but also below market targets.

"This is not a significant comfort going into the holiday season," said Ken Perkins, president of research company RetailMetrics.

"Everybody across the board is feeling it. Even discounters are going to have a tough go."

Retail sales figures are significant as the US economy relies on consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity.




SEE ALSO
US retail sales decline in August
12 Sep 08 |  Business
US retail sales struggle in July
07 Aug 08 |  Business
Budget shoppers boosting Wal-Mart
14 Aug 08 |  Business
Wal-Mart to invest $1bn in Brazil
13 Aug 08 |  Business

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