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Weak November Sales at Nation’s Retailers Despite Healthy Black Friday Spending

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Black Friday spending started strongly then fizzled around noon.  Sales for the entire month of November were also weak nationwide, not just in Eastern areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Big chain retailers reporting less-than-anticipated sales include Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Target.

Sales for November at 16 stories open at least a year peaked at a 1.6 percent increase over the previous year, according to data from Thomson Reuters, which tracked retail activity across the country.  Analysts had forecast sales at more than twice that at 3.3 percent.

Although Macy’s posted record sales on Black Friday, sales for the other 30 days of November were feeble.

“Despite the largest-volume Thanksgiving weekend in our company’s history, we were not able to overcome the weak start to the month, which included the disruption of hurricane Sandy, said Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren in a statement from the firm.

Macy’s announced a total sales decline of 0.6 percent for the four weeks ending November 24, compared to the same period in the previous year. Macy’s stock fell about three percent after the poor sales report went public.

Nordstrom’s Manhattan off-price store at Union Square and a few other full-price stores in the area reported a November decline of 1.1 percent in same store sales.

Kohl’s sales for November were down 5.6 percent.

But not all retailers took a hit in November.  Gap Inc., parent company of Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Gap, enjoyed a collective increase of 3.3 percent in sales, with all the brands reporting.

Although some Manhattan-based stores of the above chains were closed due to power disruptions following Hurricane Sandy, sales bounced back. Last year’s sales for the Gap were a different story, with a November decline of 5.0 percent.

Besides the negative impact of Hurricane Sandy on sales, consumers also face economic uncertainty, another possible factor in the sales slump.  As the “fiscal cliff” looms, consumers are likely aware that they will see less disposable income if a deal can’t be reached by Congress and the president on taxes and entitlements.

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