According to the survey, just a few standards such as food,front-end drug stores and off-price retailers had strong numbers inMarch. "The majority of the industry was weak," according to anICSC report. For the month, apparel-specialty chain store sales, ona same-store basis, fell 11.2% year over year, with Chico's FASdropping 20.7% and the Gap down 18%.

Department-store sales were off by 8.2%, andluxury-department-store business was down 5.3%, with Kohl'sdropping 15.5% and J.C. Penney down 12.3$. Discount-store salesfell 0.3%, with both Family Dollar and Target dropping 4.4%, butWal-Mart moving up 0.9%, the report said.

Drugstores and wholesale clubs were the only winners, posting 4%and 5.1% gains, respectively. Walgreens posted a 4.4% hike insame-store sales, while Costco saw a 7% raise, giving rise to thetheory that people only want to make short store trips, or to buyin bulk, in the troubled economy.

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