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To the surprise of few, wholesale clubs and discounters had the strongest sales in February, as the economy continues to smack down consumers. Costco’s same-stores sales rose 7% year over year, and Wal-Mart’s chains advanced a solid (for this environment) 2.6%.But February’s results still left us with some questions.Apparel chains and mid-priced department stores getting hit makes sense. But weren’t a lot of people saying the luxury chains were largely immune to a slowdown? That certainly hasn’t proven true in the case of industry-favorite Nordstrom, which posted a 5.8% decline last month to follow up a 6.6% January slide.And what is going on with Target? The retailer, which regularly outpaced Wal-Mart in same-store sales growth has lagged behind the last three months, most recently inching up only 0.5%. Is the company just faced with tough comparisons to last year’s sales, or is its bigger rival better equipped to deal with a downturn?

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