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U.S. Retailers' Holiday Spirit Intact After Slow September

October 07, 1994|From Associated Press

Lingering warm weather in September weakened sales for many of the nation's biggest store owners reporting results Thursday.

But industry analysts said consumer demand remains strong and the outlook for the Christmas season good.

Retailers and analysts noted that business recovered this week as temperatures fell and consumers began shopping for warmer clothes.

"As soon as it got cold in October, sales picked up," said Karen Sack, an analyst with Standard & Poor's Corp. "We'll see a lot of September sales were deferred until October."

Since the recession, consumers have bought clothing or household goods only when needed. The days of stocking up on winter clothes months before the weather turns cold are gone.

Analysts said women's apparel sales, which have suffered for more than a year, continued to improve September. But the increase wasn't dramatic.

Department store companies, which have been taking business away from mall-based specialty stores and discount stores, continued to gain market share last month, Sack said.

Wal-Mart Inc., the nation's largest retailer, said sales from stores open at least a year rose 6.5% from last September, and total sales were up 22%. The figures were off from Wal-Mart's strong pace earlier this year.

In Los Angeles, Broadway Stores Inc. said same-store sales increased 4.4% in September, and total 1994 same-store sales for the 35 weeks ended Oct. 1 increased 3.2% from a year earlier.

Kmart Corp. said same-store sales rose 2.8%, while overall business was up 7.9%. Sears, Roebuck & Co. said same-store sales advanced 4.8% and overall sales rose 5.4%.

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