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Same-store sales show improvement

Holding strong for a second straight week, helped by warmer weather and improving sales of seasonal goods, same-store retail sales improved by 2.6 percent during the second week of July, with most retailers tracking on plan or at the high end of their target range.

After jumping up by 2.8 percent during the first week of July, same-store sales remained upbeat at 2.6 percent the second week, the Redbook Retail Sales Average reported.

Given the hefty back-to-back push, sales for the two weeks month to date have climbed by 2.7 percent from year-ago levels, easily exceeding a target of 2.1 percent. Sales are now up a full 1.0 percent above June levels, besting a targeted 0.4 percent gain.

"Most retailers indicated they were on plan, and some said they were tracking the upper end of their target ranges month to date," said Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst. "As heat waves hit most parts of the country, air-conditioned enclosed malls probably drew in more than the usual number of customers trying to escape the heat."

The analyst added, "Some retailers continued to report reasonable turnover in selected seasonal apparel, including swimwear, women's wear and shoes. Others suggested that moderate interest in children's departments was evidence of early back-to-school buying."

July, Levis noted, "is typically trendless and transition-oriented to clearing summer inventory. At the same time, some merchants said the payroll cycle had again become evident in their businesses, with sales volume increasing around July 15th, when mid-month paychecks arrived, generally interpreted as a sign of consumer illiquidity, which is often prevalent in a weak economy."

A further boost to retail could come soon as July 25, when the U.S. government will mail out $14 billion in tax rebates to 25 million taxpayers.

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Second week of July

Week ended 7/12 7/19 7/26 8/2 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.4
Discounters 4.2 4.0 4.1 3.1
Redbook Average 2.8 2.6 2.7 2.1

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