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    S&P Report Card: Economy Hitting Retail Hard

    NEW YORK -- Retailers continue to be pummeled by a poor economy and flagging consumer confidence, according to a new report from Standard & Poors Ratings Services.

    NEW YORK -- Retailers continue to be pummeled by a poor economy and flagging consumer confidence, according to a new report from Standard & Poors Ratings Services. This negates an earlier report from the service predicting recovery.

    "Substantial stock market sebacks are still punishing disposable incomes and creating less urgency for consumers to spend. This has resulted in a regimen of declining same-store sales, though gross margins are tending to improve," noted S&P analyst Gerald Hirschberg. "The most vulnerable sectors include department stores, specialty apparel, supermarkets, and office products."

    The report goes on to say that the retail sales outlook for the 2002 holiday season remains "very guarded," and that there is now less optimism for a recovery in 2003.

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