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Hurricanes Crimp September Sales

New York — The late-summer hurricanes which battered much of the Southeast left September sales soggy for some national retail chains.

Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, whose Florida-based Sound Advice chain accounts for some 20 percent of the company’s store base, reported a 3.4 percent decline in revenue to $179 million for its fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept. 30.

Comparable store sales declined 3.5 percent in total and 1.8 percent, absent the Florida stores.

“We had a positive quarter going until the first hurricane hit Florida in August and business could not regain its momentum,” reported CEO Jeff Stone. The region lost over 191 store days due to weather-related closings, he said.

Nevertheless, the company managed to work down inventory and long-term debt thanks to supply chain and other process improvements, and ended the period with “continuing sales trend improvement” over the preceding quarter, which it expects will continue into the holiday season, Stone said. Tweeter is also stoking the holiday fires with a new multi-million dollar TV and radio ad campaign that broke this month.

Sears said total September sales fell nearly 5 percent to $2.3 billion while comparable store sales slipped 3.2 percent. Majap comp sales rose by the low single digits, the company reported, while CE comps declined by the same amount.

Sales at Wal-Mart’s flagship stores rose 9.4 percent to $17.2 billion last month while comp sales rose a more moderate 2 percent. September sales at No. 2 discount chain Target grew 12.5 percent to $3.9 billion, and comps gained 5.6 percent.

September sales at Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club unit rose 5.7 percent to $3.4 billion on comp gains of 4.5 percent, while BJ’s Wholesale Club said revenue rose 12.1 percent last month to $676.8 million while comps grew 8.3 percent. The chain lists TVs among its strongest performing categories and audio among its weakest.