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February chills retail sales

New York – In a soft start to the new retail fiscal year, severe winter weather kept consumers off the roads and away from the malls in many parts of the country during February, leaving key American retailers with a set of largely disappointing same-store numbers.

One-third of the stores tracked each month by Home Textiles Today reported a drop in comps.

Federated’s same-store sales grew a scant 1.2%, well behind the 4.4% gain put up in January. But it was more than storms that impacted the numbers; beginning this month, the retailer includes same-store sales from the May Co. stores it acquired along with its better performing Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

JCPenney reported a modest 0.2% drop in same-store sales, reversing a solid 3.5% increase in January.

Wal-Mart recorded a notably disappointing performance in its core discount stores, where same-store sales rose a skimpy 0.4%, well beneath an expected gain of 1.5%. Sam's Club, by contrast, drove same-store sales up a solid 3.9%.

Another big double-digit gain was put up by The Bon-Ton, with same-store sales jumping up by 14.6%. Otherwise, the month's biggest gainers were those appealing to dollar-conscious consumers – Target, up 5.7%; Costco, up 5.0%; and Dollar General, up 4.9%.

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