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NEW YORK - The Iraqi War, cold weather, a late Easter, and the recession all contributed to weak March sales for leading retailers, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Federated Department Stores, and J.C. Penney Co.
Wal-Mart said its same store sales rose just 0.7 percent for March, compared to the low single-digit percentage increase it had forecast. However, those results were stellar compared to its department store counterparts. Same store sales at J.C. Penney fell 5.5 percent, while Federated, which operates Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Lazarus, and other chains, saw its same store sales plummet 6.5 percent. Same store sales at Sears fell 3.1 percent, which was better than expected as consumers spent more on home improvement and lawn and garden items.