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NEW YORK CITY-Economic woes are hitting the local mall, as retail comparable-store sales rose a “dismal” 1% in September over the previous year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers monthly sales index.

The number is the worst September increase since 2001, when the 9/11 attacks and 2001 recession resulted in just a 0.9% rise. In this case, however, the weather was a factor: Wal-Mart, which reported a 2.8% increase, said that 342 of its namesake stores experienced business interruption due to hurricanes, though its Sam’s Club division saw extra sales in those areas from shoppers stocking up on emergency supplies.

“Not surprisingly, the primary story retailers cited for the September sales weakness was the financial crisis and the economy,” wrote Michael Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research. “The best performing segments were the value and staples, which is a continuation of the underlying story.”

Wholesale clubs rose 7.4% (5.2% excluding fuel) over the previous year, followed by drug stores, with a 3.8% increase. BJ’s Wholesale reported a 10.4% comp increase, with Costco seeing a 7% increase. Walgreens reported a 4.7% increase, Rite Aid a 1.7% rise. Target posted a 3% drop, while TJX reported a comp decrease of 1.0%. Luxury stores, on the other hand, posted a 10.9% decrease, with department stores reporting a 9.8% drop.

Apparel-oriented chains were the big losers: Chico’s reported a 15.6% drop, while Gap posted an 11% decline. Even the teen segment overall reported a 6.8% decline, as Abercrombie & Fitch had a 14% drop.

For the industry as a whole, ICSC expects October same-store sales will post an increase of between 1.5% and 2.5% year over year.

“The industry continues to face an ‘easy’ year-over-year comparison with October 2007 (when sales growth was 1.6%),” Niemira wrote, “But also faces a strong headwind from the ripple effects of the financial crisis and economic deterioration.”

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