NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A slowdown in the Chinese economy could dent profits for U.S. multinational retailers such as Starbucks ( SBUX) , Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) and Gap ( GPS) .
These companies have been aggressively laying infrastructure in top Chinese markets such as Shanghai, Beijing, as well as second and third-tier cities, and have prospered while sales continue to be robust.
But Chinese retail sales for August were the latest data point to call into question the sunny outlooks and hearty investment plans by these U.S. retail companies. Retail sales growth in both urban and rural Chinese markets has been slowing since May. In August, urban retail sales rose by 11.8%, below July's 12.1% pace, while rural retail sales expanded by 12.8% in August, down from a 13.2% increase in the prior month.
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At the end of its June-ended fiscal third quarter, Starbucks was approaching 1,300 stores in China, and recently unveiled two new flagships locations, including one in Beijing that is open for 24 hours.
"Once again, comps in China outpaced the region overall, despite concerns around an economic slowdown in China," confidently noted Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead on the third-quarter earnings call in late July.