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Discounters Show Gains, But September's Retail Sales Reports Are Weakest in Decades

11 Oct, 2001 By: Hive News

Last month's terrorists attacks froze many consumers in their tracks, leaving retailers with their weakest September sales performance in two decades, said the Associated Press.

U.S. retailers' same-store sales rose 0.8% last month, the industry's worst September in at least 30 years, said Bloomberg News.

Consumer spending that stalled after the attacks has since rebounded to near-normal levels, says the AP, but Wall Street analysts andretail executives said they remain wary about the holiday season.

"Even before Sept. 11, retail sales would have been mediocre at best. The attacks worsened the economic situation," Kurt Barnard, president of Upper Montclair, N.J.-based Retail Trend Report, told the AP, citing more massive layoffs and aplummeting stock market. "Consumers are going back to shopping, regaining some sense of normalcy, [but] if there should be another terrorist attack in the U.S., all bets are off."

Discounters have an advantage and generally fare better than the rest of the industry in tough times because theyoffer food and basic household goods, as well as discretionary items such asclothing and electronics.

Wal-Mart reported a robust 6.3% gain in sales at stores open at least a year. Analysts had expected a gain of anywhere from 4% to 6%.Wal-Mart's total sales were up 14.8%.

Kmart Corp. said same-store sales in September were unchanged from a year ago and in line with Wall Streetexpectations, while total sales dipped 1.8%.

Target Corp. had a 1.3% September sales increase at its namesake discount chain.

September accounts for 9.4% of retailer's annual sales, making it the third most important month of the year, behind December and June, according to the AP.

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