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Johnson Redbook: retail sales up 4% in final week of August

New York - The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index was up 4.0% in the fourth and final week of August following a 3.6% gain the previous week. Month-to-date, August was up 4.2% compared to August of last year, relative to a target of a 4.6% gain. And month-over-month showed a 0.1% gain compared to July, relative to a target of a 0.4% gain.

Disrupting sales performance for the final week of August was Hurricane Irene in the East Coast region, Redbook noted.

"In anticipation of the storm, shoppers made a run on food, water, batteries and other emergency supplies, ramping up business at stores which stock these staples," said Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst. "Not all formats were affected equally, and our discount stores model held up reasonably well on a broad mix of consumables. Some retailers noted that sales for the week could be carried over to the following week."

Elsewhere, consumer interest was on seasonal and back-to-school merchandise, with apparel the focus, especially children's and junior.

Looking forward, Redbook's preliminary target for September is 4.6% year-over-year, or a month-to-month increase of 0.1%. This target will be finalized in next week's report.

Stores will report August sales on Thursday, Sept. 1 and Redbook will issue its usual Johnson Redbook Same-store Sales Index that morning.

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