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Same-store sales ahead of plan

New York — In a hopeful sign that consumers are flocking back to the malls and opening up their wallets, same-store retail sales sharply outpaced expectations during the first week of February, climbing by 4.2 percent, well ahead of a targeted gain of 3.3 percent, according to the Redbook Retail Sales Average.

Once again, the nation's low-margin, low-cost discounters led the pack, posting a hefty gain of 7.5 percent, easily besting a target of 6.3 percent growth.

And department stores, although still losing ground, managed to beat their sales targets as well. Department stores recorded a decline of 0.7 percent, better than the 1.3 percent drop that had been expected for the week.

Reflecting two straight months of strong gains in consumer confidence and improved, if still not robust, retail sales, Redbook analyst Catlin Levis revised her February target upward, from an initial forecast of a 1.1 percent decline in sales from January levels to a flat reading.

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