Moody’s Investors Service forecasts a slowing of the same-store sales declines that have been affecting US department stores in the second half of the year.

Despite the slowdown, it is still likely to be a tough period for department stores, with the sector forced to discount heavily in the holiday season to drive sales.

US department stores have suffered some of the weakest retail sales figures since the recession began. Their combined same-store sales dropped 9% in the first half of the year and Moody’s expects a 4% decline in the second half. “Consumer sentiment remains weak, unemployment remains high and consumer credit remains constrained,” said Moody’s.