To the surprise of few, wholesale clubs and discounters had thestrongest sales in February, as the economy continues to smack downconsumers. Costco's same-stores sales rose 7% year over year, andWal-Mart's chains advanced a solid (for this environment) 2.6%.ButFebruary's results still left us with some questions.Apparel chains and mid-priced department stores gettinghit makes sense. But weren't a lot of people saying the luxurychains were largely immune to a slowdown? That certainly hasn't proventrue in the case of industry-favorite Nordstrom, which posted a5.8% decline last month to follow up a 6.6% January slide.And whatis going on with Target? The retailer, which regularly outpacedWal-Mart in same-store sales growth has lagged behind the lastthree months, most recently inching up only 0.5%. Is the companyjust faced with tough comparisons to last year's sales, or is itsbigger rival better equipped to deal with a downturn?

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