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Nervous consumers hunker down

New York — Antsy about the likelihood of war and an increasingly clouded employment outlook, consumers still weren't biting during the second week of March, and same-store retail sales dipped for a second straight week, falling by 1.3 percent with the slide gaining momentum after a smaller 0.7 percent drop the preceding week.

For the two weeks month-to-date, the weekly Redbook Retail Sales Average — which tracks sales of retailers representing about 9,000 stores nationwide — was down by 1.0 percent from year-ago levels, weaker than a targeted slide of 0.5 percent.

Department stores, predictably, were weak, with sales falling off by 5.2 percent following a 3.6 percent decline the prior week. But discounters managed to hold their own, with sales advancing modestly, by 1.2 percent. Breaking sales out on a regional basis, the Northeast and Midwest posted the strongest sales results.

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