NEW YORK: The UBS-International Council of Shopping Centers monthly survey of fifty-three US centers, recorded a decline of 2.4%, the biggest drop since the index started in 1970.

Said Wachovia Securities managing director John Morris, with masterly understatement: "Consumers are not feeling quite as healthy from an economic standpoint as they did last year at this time."

ICSC chief economist Michael Niemira was more forthright, declaring that the April data confirmed "the slowdown is at hand".

Even Wal-Mart was not immune from the malaise, recording a rare fall - its weakest performance since the retail titan began publishing monthly sales in 1980, according to a company spokesman.

Data sourced from USA Today; additional content by WARC staff