Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said in a recorded update that Valentine's Day and fears of another terror attack on the U.S. buoyed same-store sales -- or sales at stores open at least a year -- in the latest week.
Wal-Mart said it still expects February sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year to increase 2 percent to 4 percent. The company, one of the thirty Dow components, said its flagship Wal-Mart stores are expected to show a 3-percent to 5-percent gain in same-store sales.
The company said same-store sales met expectations through Feb. 14, but the weather in the eastern U.S. damped results over the weekend. The retailer said it hopes to get back on track by the end of the month and meet its forecasts for a drop of 4 percent to 5 percent in February same-store sales.
Many retailers are keeping February growth forecasts well below last year's levels, setting the stage for another lackluster month as consumer spending stalls.
U.S. retailers turned in better-than-expected February sales last year as consumer spending recovered rapidly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.
This year, however, consumer confidence is tracking near nine-year lows as companies slash jobs and war rhetoric fills newscasts, keeping spending in check. A war in Iraq could exacerbate the slowdown. (Reuters)
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