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Redbook continues strong Feb. run

Still bolstered by continued strength at the nation's low-price discounters, same-store retail sales moved up by 3.9 percent during the second week of February, and are running solidly ahead of plan for the first two weeks of the month.

The Redbook Retail Sales Average climbed by 4.0 percent for the month-to-date period, surpassing a targeted increase of 3.3 percent.

But all of the gains came from the increasingly important discount channel, where sales climbed higher by 7.1 percent during the week, compared with a drop of 0.9 percent at department stores and chains.

"Most retailers said sales for the second week were generally satisfactory, and most indicated they were trending on or slightly ahead of plan month-to-date," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

"Sales during the week were driven by a combination of factors, including Valentine's Day promotions (good for candy, flowers, jewelry and selected women's apparel) and continuing clearance of winter apparel and better home furnishings sales. Also, warmer temperatures may have helped to boost early sales of spring merchandise, adding a seasonal component to the week."

Some discounters, Levis noted, "said the Valentine's Day event resulted in an increase in customer counts creating spill-over business in other categories such as home appliances, electronics, toys and food."

During the next few weeks, the analyst added, "retail companies will release their fourth-quarter earnings. As expected, discounters most likely will report earnings statements showing that they fared well for the quarter, while most specialty and department stores are expected to show weak earnings."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Second week of February

Week Ended 2/9 2/16 2/23 3/2 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* -0.7 -0.9 -0.8 -1.3
Discounters 7.5 7.1 7.3 6.3
Redbook Average 4.2 3.9 4.0 3.3

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