Shares of Parkson Retail Group fell as much as 17.04 per cent yesterday as investors were unnerved by the firm's worse than expected sales growth in the previous quarter. The stock of the mainland department store unit of Malaysia's Lion Group closed down 15.81 per cent at HK$7.56. 'After registering 14 per cent to 15 per cent same-store sales for the first nine months of 2008, Parkson's sharp drop in fourth-quarter figures suggests that we are still far from seeing the trough in slowdown of spending,' a Goldman Sachs report issued yesterday said. Parkson said on Tuesday that the growth of same-store sales, the key industry measure, in the fourth quarter slowed to between 7 and 8 per cent because of the unfavourable calendar shift surrounding the year-end long weekend and the worsening environment along coastal regions. The company said same-store sales growth for last year was likely to be 12 per cent below its previously projected mid-teens. Goldman Sachs and other investment banks such as Deutsche Bank and Cazenove cut Parkson's stock rating and target price. 'We expected macro headwinds including slowing wage growth and rising unemployment to dim Parkson's earnings growth outlook in 2009,' said Deutsche Bank analyst Mabel Wong. She said the industry would have a long and chilly winter since consumption might worsen after the Lunar New Year as consumers were expected to cut spending on discretionary items and more people would lose their jobs. Randy Zhou, an analyst at UBS Securities, said profit-taking trades might have triggered Parkson's share price decline yesterday because the stock had rallied recently. New World Department Store China, Parkson's rival, had even worse sales, according to Goldman Sachs. The company's same-store sales growth was nearly flat in the fourth quarter, compared with the 15 per cent growth in the first half of the year, it said. Shares of New World Department Store China dropped 5.75 per cent to HK$4.10 yesterday. Golden Eagle Retail Group, a Nanjing-based department store chain, closed 5.83 per cent lower at HK$5.01.