From: Reuters
Published December 16, 2007 11:31 AM

U.S. apparel chains see slow holiday growth: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. specialty apparel retailers have experienced slow sales growth over the first 20 days of the holiday shopping season, according to data released on Sunday by SpendingPulse.

The figures, from the retail data service of MasterCard Advisors, offer an early glimpse of how consumer spending is holding up this season, as consumers grapple with the U.S. housing slump, rising food and fuel costs and tighter credit.

SpendingPulse said that over the first 20 days of the holiday shopping season, sales at U.S. specialty apparel chains, which include Gap Inc <GPS.N>, Aeropostale Inc <ARO.N> and Urban Outfitters Inc, <URBN.O> rose a modest 0.5 percent this year, compared with a 5.1 percent increase last year.

Men's clothing sales rose 4.5 percent, while women's clothing sales fell 5.7 percent, SpendingPulse said.

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Consumer electronics sales rose 5.8 percent, SpendingPulse said.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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