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Veteran Loeb tries to squelch rumors

Veteran retail analyst Walter Loeb had harsh words for almost 2,000 retailers at a packed National Retail Federation session, scolding them for spreading "potentially destructive'' gossip, presumably about problem-plagued Kmart.

At the end of a wide-ranging panel discussion, Loeb took the microphone to chide retailers for spreading rumors throughout the halls of the Jacob Javits Center.

"I know this industry loves rumors, and people spend lots of time on the phone spreading gossip. But rumors can be harmful and destructive, and potentially destructive gossip is going around now," Loeb said in a pointed allusion to speculation about Kmart.

"One of the great dangers, of course, is that gossip is not only harmful, but that it can also turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I wish people would stop talking about certain retailers," Loeb added.

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