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Retail Chains Report Disappointing Sales

Fri., June 6, 1997

Shoppers didn’t buy that new sundress or lawnmower in May as unseasonably cool weather chilled much of the country and left many large retailers with disappointing sales.

The nation’s largest stores on Thursday reported lower-than-expected sales for May, the second straight month that the thermometer iced demand for apparel and other seasonal items.

“The weather was 4 degrees below normal for the month of May and that just translated into lower sales for many retailers,” said Jeffrey Feiner, a retail analyst at Salomon Brothers Inc.

If the warmer weather doesn’t come soon, analysts warned that retailers could face lower second-quarter earnings.

May’s performance extended a losing streak for many retailers whose sales have lagged for months. Despite record levels of consumer confidence, many shoppers remain cautious with their spending, and don’t buy clothes and household goods unless they really need them.

Separately, the Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of American workers filing first-time claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly shot up by 19,000 to 337,000 last week to the highest level in a month.

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