Retailers Report Mixed Sales in November

Associated Press
Friday, December 7, 2007

NEW YORK, Dec. 6 -- The holiday shopping season got off to an uneasy start as consumers pulled back after taking advantage of big Thanksgiving weekend discounts, leaving retailers with mixed sales results for November.

Warehouse club operators like Costco and discounter Wal-Mart, which were able to keep crowds coming in with special offers, were the winners. But plenty of others, particularly mall-based apparel stores, including Limited and teen retailer Wet Seal, had disappointing results.

Wal-Mart rival Target warned that it might not be able to meet its fourth-quarter earnings projections if sales don't improve significantly after falling off the final week of November following a solid showing over Thanksgiving weekend.

Department stores Macy's and Nordstrom reported robust sales, but that was mostly due to a quirk in the calendar that resulted in an additional week after Thanksgiving falling into the month of November compared to December last year.

Wal-Mart said its same-store sales rose 1.5 percent in November, beating the 1.2 percent estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

In a statement, Wal-Mart said sales the day after Thanksgiving were solid across the store, from entertainment items to sleepwear. The company said that apparel sales improved, but home furnishings sales remain weak.

Wal-Mart projected that December same-store sales will be up anywhere from 1 percent to 3 percent.

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