By and and and  on January 8, 2009

When even Wal-Mart Stores Inc. falls short of expectations, the depth of the consumer slowdown can no longer be denied.

Such was the case in December, a month in which same-store sales came in for retailers just as advertised, a dispiriting coda for the toughest holiday season in more than a generation. While every sector tracked by WWD declined, department stores were hit particularly hard, and high-end stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks hardest of all.

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