By  on July 31, 2012

NEW YORK — Coach’s stock took an 18.6 percent hit, as slumping demand at its North American factory stores sent speculation swirling that consumers were either feeling the economic pinch at last, or the brand was being squeezed by increased competition in the U.S.

Coach’s shares fell to $49.33 Tuesday, after the handbag and accessories maker missed Wall Street’s fourth-quarter sales projections. Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive officer of Coach, attributed the rare sales miss to a “softened” U.S. economic backdrop, despite internal research that consumer brand loyalty remained strong.

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