The traditional back-to-school selling boom went bust at the nation's retail chains in August because the economy remained weak and the July tax cut failed to stimulate consumer spending, analysts said yesterday.

Sears, Roebuck and Co., the nation's biggest retailer, said its August sales rose only 0.7 percent from the strong year-ago pace. K mart Corp., ranked No. 2, reported a 4.3 percent decline. J.C. Penney Co., the third largest, showed a 1.8 percent slump. Number four F.W. Woolworth Co., logged a 1.4 percent increase.

"Very disappointing," said Jeffery Edelman, an analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. "Economic recovery seems to be gaining a little more, but it definitely has not been reflected in a pickup in sales."

But Feiner predicted a gradual improvement in retail sales, "culminating in a reasonably healthy Christmas season aided by lower interest rates, psychological benefits associated with the improved stock market and a minor spur from the tax cut." So far, analysts agreed, the cut in personal income taxes that went into effect this summer has produced little impact on consumer spending.

Sears Chairman Edward R. Telling, however, said better results are expected for the rest of the year because of the tax cut and declining interest rates.

Sears announced its August sales edged up to $1.53 billion vs. $1.52 billion a year earlier. For the first 30 weeks of the year, Sears sales are up 1.6 percent from the year before. But considering that inflation has raised prices by 3 to 6 percent, the Sears stores have sold fewer items than during the same period in 1981.

K mart's sales dropped to $1.187 billion from $1.24 billion last August, and are up 3.9 percent for the year.

J.C. Penney, whose sales fell to $858 million in August from $874 million a year ago, said most of the decline occurred in stores serving the Mexican border area hit by the devalued peso.

Woolworth's sales climbed to $542 million from $534.4 million in August 1981, with domestic sales up 2 percent and foreign sales expressed in U.S. dollars essentially unchanged.

A 8.9 percent August sales gain to $561.3 million from $515.6 million was reported by Federated Department Stores, the fifth largest retailer, which operates the Bloomingdale's stores in Washington.

Montgomery Ward Co., ranked sixth, had a 5.3 percent decrease in August to $409.6 million from $439.3 million the year before.

Dayton Hudson Corp.'s August sales jumped 15.9 percent to $423.4 million against $365.3 million. Sales of Carter Hawley Hale Stores -- operator of the I. Magnin and Neiman-Marcus stores in Washington -- moved up 2.3 percent to $198 million vs. $193.5 million. Zayre Corp., the big discounter, scored a 24.6 percent surge to $169.5 million from $136 million in August last year. Retail Sales 'Dissapointing' For August From News Services

The traditional back-to-school selling boom went bust at the nation's retail chains in August because the economy remained weak and the July tax cut failed to stimulate consumer spending, analysts said yesterday.

Sears, Roebuck and Co., the nation's biggest retailer, said its August sales rose only 0.7 percent from the strong year-ago pace. K mart Corp., ranked No. 2, reported a 4.3 percent decline. J.C. Penney Co., the third largest, showed a 1.8 percent slump. Number four F.W. Woolworth Co., logged a 1.4 percent increase.

"Very disappointing," said Jeffery Edelman, an analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. "Economic recovery seems to be gaining a little more, but it definitely has not been reflected in a pickup in sales."

But Feiner predicted a gradual improvement in retail sales, "culminating in a reasonably healthy Christmas season aided by lower interest rates, psychological benefits associated with the improved stock market and a minor spur from the tax cut." So far, analysts agreed, the cut in personal income taxes that went into effect this summer has produced little impact on consumer spending.

Sears Chairman Edward R. Telling, however, said better results are expected for the rest of the year because of the tax cut and declining interest rates.

Sears announced its August sales edged up to $1.53 billion vs. $1.52 billion a year earlier. For the first 30 weeks of the year, Sears sales are up 1.6 percent from the year before. But considering that inflation has raised prices by 3 to 6 percent, the Sears stores have sold fewer items than during the same period in 1981.

K mart's sales dropped to $1.187 billion from $1.24 billion last August, and are up 3.9 percent for the year.

J.C. Penney, whose sales fell to $858 million in August from $874 million a year ago, said most of the decline occurred in stores serving the Mexican border area hit by the devalued peso.

Woolworth's sales climbed to $542 million from $534.4 million in August 1981, with domestic sales up 2 percent and foreign sales expressed in U.S. dollars essentially unchanged.

A 8.9 percent August sales gain to $561.3 million from $515.6 million was reported by Federated Department Stores, the fifth largest retailer, which operates the Bloomingdale's stores in Washington.

Montgomery Ward Co., ranked sixth, had a 5.3 percent decrease in August to $409.6 million from $439.3 million the year before.

Dayton Hudson Corp.'s August sales jumped 15.9 percent to $423.4 million against $365.3 million. Sales of Carter Hawley Hale Stores -- operator of the I. Magnin and Neiman-Marcus stores in Washington -- moved up 2.3 percent to $198 million vs. $193.5 million. Zayre Corp., the big discounter, scored a 24.6 percent surge to $169.5 million from $136 million in August last year.