Wal-Mart Cuts September Sales Forecast

NEW YORK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Monday cut back its September sales forecast, the second month in a row that the world's biggest retailer has been hurt by lower consumer spending, Reuters reports.

Wal-Mart reduced its expected sales growth to 3 to 4 percent at stores open at least a year from estimates of 4 to 6 percent at the start of the month.

"This is in line with our view that the consumer continues to be cautious. The West coast dock workers situation adds additional risk to the fall and Christmas season unless it's resolved quickly," Todd Slater, an analyst with Lazard Freres, told Reuters.

The association representing employers at 29 U.S. West Coast ports ordered a lockout Sunday night, saying their union was engaging in illegal work slowdowns and work stoppages. The unionized dock workers handle more than half of U.S. trade.

Wal-Mart said its earlier sales forecast was based on "too optimistic" assumptions about the amount of business lost in the post Sept. 11 period last year. It was also affected by tax rebate comparisons, which should diminish in October, the company said.

Still, Wal-Mart said its quarterly earnings would match Wall Street expectations for a jump of more than 20 percent.

The areas of strongest performance included electronics, video games, home furnishings and paint, Wal-Mart said, noting that apparel was weak.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds