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September ends with comps up, but sales especially slow at department stores

New York - Comps were up 3.3% in the fifth and final week of September following a 3.8% gain the prior week, according to the Johnson Redbook retail sales index.

Month-to-date, September was up 3.7% compared to September of last year, relative to a target of a 4.2% gain. Month-over-month showed a 0.5% drop, relative to a flat target.

Sales were somewhat slower for most stores in our model in the final week of September, even though the slowdown was more evident at department stores than at discount stores, noted Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

"A number of stores indicated that business picked up toward the end of the week as temperatures in parts of the country turned cooler, though too late to have much effect on the index," she continued. "Many stores have been stepping up promotions to offer more discounts."

Looking ahead, October is a four-week month ending Nov. 2. Columbus day in the second week matches the timing of the year ago holiday.

"Halloween is more significant," Levis said. "Year-over-year comparisons during October will be favorable due to the fact that Halloween falls six days earlier this year."

Redbook's preliminary target for October, based on retailers' plans, is for a 3.8% year-overs-year gain, which equates to a monthly decline of 0.8%.

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