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Retail sales stay steady

NEW YORK -- Helped by the start of summer clearance sales and a heat wave that spurred demand for hot-weather merchandise, same-store retail sales improved 4.2 percent during the second week of July, on a par with the week before, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Sales for the two weeks month-to-date were slightly beneath a targeted gain of 4.3 percent.

"The week's results varied across retailers' categories, with a pickup in discount store sales compensating for a slight pull back at department stores," said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. Discounter sales were up 5.3 percent, building on a 5.1 percent increase the prior week. But department store sales came in light at 2.6 percent, off from a 2.9 percent increase the week before.

Discounters came in modestly ahead of plan for the week, said Levis, doing their best business in consumer staples like food and in seasonal hard goods.

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