U.S. chain store sales fell in the latest week, but less sharply than in the two preceding weeks, indicating the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks on retail sales may be moderate, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UBS Warburg said on Tuesday. 

U.S. chain store sales inched 0.2 percent lower during the week ended Sept. 29, the two firms reported in their Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot. 

It was the fifth consecutive weekly decline but represented an improvement over declines of 0.8 percent in the week ended Sept. 22 and 1.4 percent in the week ended Sept. 15. 

``Sales performance relative to plan was mixed among retailers. Lower-margin food, consumables and pharmacy businesses continued to drive sales at the discounters during the week,'' BTM said. 

The sales index also slipped, to 393.0 from 393.6 in the previous week. On a year-over-year basis, the index rose 2.4 percent, below the prior week's gain of 2.6 percent. 

The split between sales at discount retailers and department stores remained pronounced, as worried consumers opted for staple goods such as food and pharmaceuticals. But the onset of cold weather gave a needed boost to sales of apparel. 

The BTM/UBSW Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot is compiled from seven major discount, department and chain stores across the country which report their weekly results. Those stores include JC Penney, Sears, Target, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores. 

The BTM/UBSW index measures sales growth with the year 1977 equaling 100.