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News Link • Economy - Economics USA

U.S. retailers scramble after lackluster holiday sales

• By Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Jessica Wohl
 While chains like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Gap Inc are thought to have done well, analysts expect much less from the likes of book seller Barnes & Noble Inc and department store chain J. C. Penney Co.

Growth was always expected to slow this season, though an improving employment picture and rising home values had helped mitigate the worst fears. But then Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in late October, mild weather blunted sales of winter clothing and rising concern about the "fiscal cliff" became more of a reality, dragging down already pessimistic forecasts.

"The broad brush was Christmas wasn't all that merry for retailers, and you have to ask what those margins look like if the top line didn't meet their expectations," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group.

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