A chill wind swept across corporate America in the wake of Hurricane Charley, prompted not by mid-Pacific weather systems but by the zipping of wallets by US consumers.

Wal-Mart, the nation's (and the globe's) largest retailer, shocked economists and investors alike by downgrading its sales forecast for August. Same-store sales, it warned, are now likely to show an average growth of just 0.2% versus the 2% to 4% originally forecast.

The retailer cited torpid back-to-school sales and, of course, Hurricane Charley -- the latter having closed [up to] seventy-five stores for [up to] three days. Across Florida and the south-eastern states, around 200 stores were affected in some unspecified way.

A later-than-usual Labor Day holiday was also blamed.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff