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Fitch: Retail sector to enjoy stable credit conditions

Nov 28, 2011 Walt Wojoiechowski

Despite evolving business models and the struggle to obtain market share, U.S. retailers are likely to enjoy a stable credit outlook for the coming year, according to a new report from ratings firm Fitch Ratings. While consumer credit risk management continues to be a major concern for banks and consumer lenders, the retail sector's mid-single-digit sales growth and 2 percent to 3 percent surge in same-store sales are apt to restrain otherwise volatile credit levels. "But defending market share will be central to U.S. retailers' ratings movement," the New York-based firm reported on Tuesday. "[Fitch] expects the stronger, growth-oriented retailers will continue to take market share, while others struggle to maintain relevance in a mature but dynamic sector." While the company did not entirely rule out the prospect of a double-dip recession, appropriate ratings throughout the retail sector discredit the possibility of wholesale credit downgrades. Last week, the National Association for Business Economic projected that another recession is unlikely, but continued struggles in the job market may continue to rack business sales, especially in the retail sector.