UPDATE 1-Uniqlo sales growth slows but momentum seen intact

Wed Dec 2, 2009 2:57am EST

* Uniqlo Nov sales growth slows from previous two months

* But 7.9 pct rise "positive" after year-ago jump-fund manager

* Continued growth contrasts with slump at other retailers (Adds details, fund manager comment)

TOKYO, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Sales at Fast Retailing's (9983.T) Uniqlo casual-clothing chain rose 7.9 percent in November from a year earlier, bucking an industrywide slump, as cost-conscious shoppers flocked to its heat-retaining "Heattech" shirts and other winter items.

The same-store sales growth was much slower than the previous two months when the budget fashion chain posted surges of more than 30 percent.

But it was positive that Uniqlo managed to post growth compared with the same month last year, when it booked a 32.2 percent jump, said Naoki Fujiwara, a fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.

"I don't take it to mean its sale growth is losing steam," he said.

Fast Retailing said the chain enjoyed brisk sales of winter items such as down and fleece jackets, in contrast to many retailers in Japan that continue to suffer sharp falls in sales amid deflation.

Apparel retailer United Arrows' (7606.T) said its November same-store sales fell 5.8 percent from a year earlier in November, while those at department store chains Isetan Mitsukoshi (3099.T) and Takashimaya (8233.T) sagged more than 10 percent.

Deflation, or persistently falling prices, can dampen economic activity as buyers put spending on hold to wait for yet lower prices. (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Chris Gallagher) ((taiga.uranaka@thomsonreuters.com; +81-3-6441-1813; Reuters Messaging: taiga.uranaka.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com))

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