updated 11/17/2003 6:12:35 AM ET 2003-11-17T11:12:35

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday it was on track to meet its November sales forecast of 3 percent to 5 percent growth at U.S. stores open at least a year, as cooler weather in parts of the United States drove demand for fall clothing.

Major Market Indices

“Sales for the November period have tracked the weather patterns with more seasonally correct temperatures driving sales, especially in the apparel areas,” Wal-Mart said on a recorded message updating sales through Nov. 14.

Last week’s temperatures were colder than a year earlier across much of the U.S. West and East, according to weather trackers Planalytics.

“Cold air across the East was enhanced by 40 to 60 mile-per-hour winds and lake-effect snows late in the week,” Planalytics said. “The storm increased demand for cold-weather apparel as well as outdoor tools in the Northeast.”

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, which last week spooked investors with a less-than-enthusiastic assessment of consumer spending, said that both the number of shoppers and the average amount spent per customer increased last week.

Wal-Mart said the best-selling categories included pharmaceuticals, household paper and food.

The four-week November sales period ends on Nov. 28, which is the day after Thanksgiving and usually one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Last year, Wal-Mart hit a record $1.43 billion in U.S. sales on the day after Thanksgiving.

Shares of Wal-Mart dipped 25 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $54.75 in early New York Stock Exchange trading, in line with weakness in the broader market.

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