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Late Turkey Day Blamed for Slow Weekly Comps

NEW YORK — Retailers reporting weekly sales Monday either met modest goals or pinned disappointments on oddball comparisons with an earlier Thanksgiving last year.<br><br>Uninspired, the equity markets shrugged off the updates as if they were...

NEW YORK — Retailers reporting weekly sales Monday either met modest goals or pinned disappointments on oddball comparisons with an earlier Thanksgiving last year.

Uninspired, the equity markets shrugged off the updates as if they were already in a post-Thanksgiving tryptophan stupor. The Standard & Poor’s retail index rose 0.6 percent to 287.17.

Among the firms with rising market caps were Wal-Mart Stores Inc., up 0.1 percent to $53.82; J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 1.2 percent to $23.18, and ShopKo Stores Inc., 0.9 percent to $16.21. Investors drove down shares of Federated Department Stores Inc. 2 percent to $31.71.

Wal-Mart said its November comps, through Friday, were still on track to hit the low end of its projected 2 to 4 percent uptick. “The four-week period is difficult to predict due to the Thanksgiving shift,” said a spokeswoman on a recorded call. “This week provided no further visibility since the early part of the week was negatively impacted by comparisons with the pre-Thanksgiving food sales of last year.” Wal-Mart’s fiscal month ends Nov. 29.

Strong merchandise categories for the firm last week included outerwear, intimate apparel and health and beauty aids.

Federated, on its Web site, said same-store sales through the third week of its fiscal month “continued to be disappointing. However, given the importance of the fourth week of November for the month as a whole, it’s not possible to provide accurate guidance for November at this time.” The firm continues to expect its combined comps for November and December to meet its forecast of a performance that is flat at best and down 2.5 percent at worst.

J.C. Penney, which just completed the fourth and final week of its fiscal month, said its department stores’ comps were on plan for a flat to slightly positive result. The week’s best showings came from fine jewelry, home, women’s accessories and women’s apparel.

Comps at ShopKo last week trended below the firm’s plan for a high-single-digit percentage drop for the month.