U.S. Retail Chain Store Sales Slip

By Agence France-Presse Sales at major U.S. retail store slipped last week but the massive electrical blackout had only a "minimal" impact on the result, an industry survey showed Aug. 18. A barometer of sales at retail chain stores released by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UBS Warburg fell 0.5% in the week ended Aug. 16 when compared with the previous week. Part of the reason for the drop was an absence of annual sales tax holidays by some U.S. states, which had boosted retailers' performance in the previous week, the survey said. The survey also cited "the negative sales impact -- from closed stores and lost business -- as a result of the blackout in the upper Midwest and Northeast, which hurt sales on Aug. 14 in particular." "However, the blackout effect was minimal on nationwide sales," it said, adding that at least two-thirds of the loss of sales during the blackout was recovered on Saturday. One bright spot in the past week was back-to-school sales, the survey said. Retail chain store sales for the whole of July rose 4.2% when compared on a same-store basis with a year earlier. Sales in August, boosted by tax rebate checks and lower tax rates flowing into consumers' wallets, were expected to show growth of about 3% to 4%, the survey said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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