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Unseasonably warm weather hurts October chain store sales

October sales at U.S. chain stores grew 1.6 percent compared to the same month in 2006, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) tally of same-store sales.

October held relatively steady with September (1.7 percent), both adversely affected by the unseasonably warm weather patterns across the United States, which impacted apparel sales and kept the overall industry performance down.

“Over the last two months, retailers have struggled with the warm weather's negative impact on retail spending," said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC's chief economist and director of research. "However, for the November-December period, we are expecting a marked improvement from the very sluggish September-October performance.”

Wal-Mart reported a same-store sales increase of 0.4 percent for October, which was lower than the 1.1 percent increase expected by analysts. Further, the retailer said it also expects moderate sales in November, which marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season — which can account for 25 percent to 40 percent of annual sales.

Wal-Mart shares fell almost 2 percent to $43.10 in early afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading following the announcement.

ICSC expects a 2.5 percent year-over-year sales increase industry-wide for November.

ICSC Chain Store Sales Trends is a monthly report on U.S. retail sales performance based on a preliminary compilation of reported sales for 44 chain stores. Industry sales aggregates are compiled for comparable-store or same-store sales and for total store sales.