Zale key sales metric during holidays falls

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DALLAS (AP) — Jewelry chain Zale Corp. said Thursday a key sales metric for the two-month holiday period ending in December fell 12 percent.

The company said total sales for the period fell 15.1 percent to $494 million, from $582 million the previous year.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 18.6 percent in November and dropped 9.2 percent in December.

This figure is a key indicator of retailer performance because it measures growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

The Dallas company said in a news release that during the holiday period, it limited its price cuts and promotions, which helped its profit margins and buffered the drop in sales.

Consumers have been cutting their spending of nonessentials like jewelry in the recession as they look to save money.