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Wal-Mart left behind as others post strong Black Friday sales
Chicago Sun Times
November 26, 2006

NEW YORK -- The nation's retailers had a strong start to the holiday shopping season, according to results announced Saturday by a national research group that tracks sales at mall stores. One big exception was Wal-Mart, which said it expects to report same-store sales in November below its lackluster forecast.

According to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks total sales at more than 45,000 retailers, total sales rose 6 percent to $8.96 billion on Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season, compared with the same day a year ago.

"Although we anticipated a solid consumer turnout for Black Friday, this data shows an even larger increase than expected as consumers proved they were willing to spend," said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, in a statement.

Wal-Mart, however, estimated it will post a 0.1 percent decline in same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year, in November. That's slightly below its original projections for flat sales for the month, compared with to the year-ago period. The results cover the four-week period that ended through Friday. Same-store sales are considered a key indicator of a retailer's health.

J.C. Penney said in a statement Saturday that the holiday shopping season was "off to a good start." Penney said home entertainment, fashion jewelry, children's apparel, housewares, holiday decorations and women's shoes were among the most popular items Friday. AP
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