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Retail rally nets slight Nov. gains

A relatively strong performance in November's final week brought same-store sales to a slight gain for the month as a whole, according to the Redbook Retail Sales Average for the week ended Nov. 30. Same-store sales for the final week of the month rose 2.7 percent, and for the month as a whole the gain was 0.7 percent.

That increase was identical to the gain posted for same-store sales for the week ended Dec. 1, 2001. The pickup also stopped a ministreak of two consecutive weeks of declines for same-store sales. Comp-store sales fell 0.6 percent in the week ended Nov. 23, and slipped 0.5 percent in the week ended Nov. 16.

Redbook said most retailers reported "firm gains" for the week and heightened sales activity — boosted, undoubtedly, by Black Friday and the shortness of this holiday's shopping season. In addition, stores with modest expectations said their sales increase was better than expected. Not surprisingly, an expansion in both promotional activity and in-store hours also provided a lift to sales.

The big winner was the discount channel, whose comp-store results jumped 5.5 percent during the week. More specifically, Wal-Mart posted a staggering $1.43 billion in checkouts on Black Friday, its largest sales day ever and 14 percent ahead of last year's Black Friday. The department store channel, on the other hand, saw same-store checkouts fall 1.5 percent for the week.

Even though business slowed for most retailers on the day following Black Friday, retailers remain hopeful for the season as a whole, Redbook said. In terms of specific products, demand for sweaters, coats and scarves got a boost from the cooling of the weather in both the Northeast and the Midwest. In addition, sales in gift items such as toys, electronics and jewelry were strong as well.

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Fourth week of November

Week ended 11/9 11/16 11/23 11/30 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department stores* -0.6 -4.0 -3.5 -1.5 -2.4 -2.2
Discounters 2.2 1.9 1.4 5.5 2.8 1.8
Redbook Average 1.0 -0.5 -0.6 2.7 0.7 0.2


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