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Wal-Mart: Katrina aftermath could affect sales

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it expects to be within its sales projections for September, but the company repeated Tuesday that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina could hurt the final number.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it expects to be within its sales projections for September, but the company repeated Tuesday that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina could hurt the final number.

The world's largest retailer said Tuesday that sales last week showed greater gains in food than in general merchandise, and that sales in the South were stronger than in other regions.

Wal-Mart last week had projected a September increase of 2 percent to 4 percent in sales at stores open at least a year. Wal-Mart said Tuesday the storm and higher fuel prices could affect how sales shake out in the five weeks ending Sept. 30.

The company said 17 stores and a corporate facility in the hurricane zone were still closed Tuesday morning, though the corporate facility was expected to reopen later in the day.

On Thursday, Wal-Mart released its sales for August, reporting an increase in same-store sales of 3.3 percent, lower than the 3.4 consensus from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. The company then had also projected the 2 percent to 4 percent increase for September and cautioned that oil prices and Katrina's effects could hurt sales.

Wal-Mart had August sales of $23.33 billion.

The company is to release its September sales numbers on Oct. 6.