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Redbook retail sales index posts 3.4% gain in December's third week

New York - The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index was up 3.4% in the third week of December following a 2.9% gain the prior week.

Month-to-date, December was up 3.2% compared to December of last year, relative to a target of a 3.6% gain. Month-over-month showed a 2.7% drop compared to November, relative to a target of a 2.3% drop.

December is a five-week month on the retail calendar, ending on December 31st.

By the end of the week, retailers started gearing up for the expected pre-Christmas rush, which includes an extra day this year, said Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst.

"The most positive development was a pickup in seasonal business as falling temperatures stimulated sales of winter apparel and other cold weather items," she added. "Seasonal sales may also have been lubricated by price reduction; retailers have selectively marked down outerwear and other winter items, in additional to preplanned promotional discounts. Sales were also influenced by the beginning of Hanukkah on December 20th. For some, a strong weekend was a favorable omen, however, most are withholding judgment until the final two weeks are over."

Redbook noted that due to the market holidays, it will release its Dec. 27 report instead on Dec. 28, and its Jan. 3 report on Jan. 4.

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