Retail sales ride roller coaster

New York — In a volatile week of seesaw retail activity that marked the first anniversary of terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, same-store retail sales during the second week of September improved by 2.0 percent over year-ago levels but were off slightly from the week before, according to the Redbook Retail Sales Average.

Underlining the unpredictability of the week, and the overall tricky retail environment, department stores actually beat their plan slightly for the two weeks month-to-date, while discounters came in slightly behind their target. For the first two weeks of September, department store sales slipped by only 1.5 percent, compared with a steeper forecast decline of 2.3 percent. Discounters, on the other hand, missed the mark, with sales of 4.5 percent coming in slightly shy of the 4.7 percent target. So far, sales for the month are up 0.5 percent from August levels, modestly ahead of a targeted gain of 0.4 percent.

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