PARIS--France's retail and apparel industries can't get a break. Terrorist bombings, an Indian summer that wreaked havoc on winter business, various strikes and political demonstrations have managed to cripple French retailing. Sales have fallen as much as 30 to 50 percent for department and variety stores on a same-day comparison with last year, according to Dominique Georgeon, president of the French Federation of Department and Variety Stores. Retail sales in May, June and July were stronger than expected, and retailers were hoping that trend would continue and possibly offset the weak sales for the first few months of the year, making for a decent year overall. But Paris's Chamber of Commerce reported French retail sales plummeted 8.6 percent in October from September and fell 4.8 percent from October 1994. Sales for department stores are down 11.9 percent; sales for hypermarkets are down 4.5 percent, and sales for variety stores are down 5.7 percent on a year-to-date basis. The recent October report of INSEE, France's national statistics agency, said purchases of manufactured goods fell 4.4 percent in October from September and dropped 2.3 percent from October 1994. In October, purchases of apparel and leather goods dropped 11 percent from September, 10.7 percent compared with October 1994 and a 15.4 percent drop from October 1993.
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