Warehouse Clubs Butt Heads And Reach For The Ice Pack

When Wal-Mart Stores Inc. stumbles, the retailing world holds its breath and braces for the worst. So when analysts spotted recent declines in same-store sales for the company's warehouse club division, some scrambled to shave heady earnings estimates. Their worry: Had the 15-year-old club phenomenon finally peaked? In answer, Wal-Mart shares tumbled 6% on Mar. 30, to 31 1/8. By Apr. 7, they had dropped another $4, along with other consumer-goods stocks.

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