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Retailers Take Tepid View of Economy

Tuesday, 20 May 2008 | 10:31 AM ET

If you were hoping for good news on the economy from retailers this morning, you didn't get much.

Home Depot's CEO Frank Blake said economic conditions actually got worse in many regions. Meanwhile, Saks and Staples expect "weak" or "challenging" economic conditions for the rest of the year. Target's CEO also used the word "challenging" when describing the economy.

Here's the commentary "in their own words":

Home Depot chairman & CEO Frank Blake: "The housing and home improvement markets remained difficult in the first quarter; in fact, conditions worsened in many areas of the country."

Target CEO Gregg Stinhafel: "Though the current economic environment remains challenging, we will continue to generate long-term value for our shareholders by remaining focused on the disciplined execution of our strategy."

Staples outlook: "The company expects the weak economic climate to continue throughout 2008. Based on this expectation, and continued investment in growth initiatives, the company's previous full year outlook remains unchanged."

Saks CEO Stephen I. Sadove: "Overall, I am pleased with the Company's first quarter performance in light of the ongoing challenging macroeconomic and increasingly competitive retail environment. Our customers responded to our merchandise selections and targeted increased promotional activity, driving an 8.4% comparable store sales growth for the quarter."

Sadove on Saks' outlook: "I remain optimistic about the longer-term outlook for the luxury channel and for Saks Fifth Avenue in particular. We are staying the course with our strategies and initiatives as we are confident that these are right for the long term. However, we believe the challenging macroeconomic and promotional environment will continue for the balance of 2008 and that our 2008 operating margin (excluding certain items) will remain relatively flat with 2007."

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