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Heavy rain means light sales for retailers

NEW YORK — Hampered by heavy rain and winter storms that kept shoppers indoors throughout parts of the country, post-Christmas retail sales came in a little light during the first week of January, rising 3.1 percent but missing a targeted gain of 3.2 percent, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Sales were off the even faster pace of a 5.2 percent increase recorded the prior week during the busiest moments of the post-holiday season.

Department stores performed well, with a same-store sales increase of 1.1 percent, easily besting a target of 0.9 percent. But acting as a drag were the nation's big mass merchants, where sales came in beneath expectations. Discounter same-store sales advanced 4.3 percent, but still missed the target of 4.7 percent.

"Sales were slightly below plan for most companies in our model in the first week of January," said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. "Store traffic was slower, somewhat impacted by heavy rain and winter storms in parts of the West and Midwest . Meanwhile, sales drivers are still in place in other areas."

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