Lost stores and the health and whereabouts of employees have remained a primary focus for retailers with outlets in or near the World Trade Center over the past few days.

Fortunately, stores in the Centre itself were located at the base of the towers, making it easier for employees to escape. Gap Inc employees left safely, as did those of Marks & Spencer owned Brooks Brothers, which has a location across the street from the Center. Its site was later used as a rescue centre.

Boston-based TJX Cos has been hard hit - the company lost seven female employees, who were on the American Airlines plane which crashed into the north tower.

Although malls throughout the country reopened yesterday, many stores are still shut in New York. The new York spring 2002 fashion shows, originally due to take place this week in Manhattan, have been postponed to begin October 22.

Immediate losses, in terms of both human lives and property, are currently to the forefront of everyone's minds. However, the events of Tuesday have also raised fears of a steep drop in spending by consumers, currently the last stable bastion of an economy that is looking increasingly unsteady.

Although many analysts agree that the tragedy will have only a temporary effect on consumer habits, the consensus is that spending is likely to be down for the next few days at least, given that many will feel it inappropriate to be buying non-essential items following Tuesday's events.

However, AG Edwards analyst Robert Buchanan stressed the importance of not overreacting, "not expecting the worst."

Goldman Sachs analyst George Strachan also struck a positive note, emphasising that real wage growth and housing turnover, two key economic pillars, remained strong.