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Retail sales cool off

March 09, 2007

Retailers posted a 2.5% sales gain last month, the weakest February increase since 2003, as frigid weather in parts of the nation cooled consumers. But it apparently takes more than a blizzard to stall big spenders.

Year-over-year percentage change in February sales at stores open at least a year

*--* Company % change Saks +24.7% Nordstrom +9.1 Neiman Marcus +6.7 Target +5.7 Wet Seal +5.0 Limited Brands +3.0 Federated +1.2 Ross +1.0 Wal-Mart +0.9 J.C. Penney -0.2 Bebe -2.2 Hot Topic -2.7 Gap -4.0 Pacific Sunwear -5.7 Sharper Image -24.0

*--*

- Chains selling high-end goods turned in strong results, with Saks leading the pack. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus advanced too.

- The parent of the Saks Fifth Avenue chain said shoppers snapped up designer clothes, shoes, handbags and jewelry.

- Saks shares jumped 5.8% Wednesday on a positive sales and earnings report and continued upward Thursday.

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Sources: Times research, company reports, International Council of Shopping Centers

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