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Discounters drive early November comp sales

New York --With last-minute Halloween shopping providing a boost to the nation's discounters, same-store retail sales improved by 3.4% during the first week of November, breezing past a target of 3.2% growth and offsetting unexpected weakness at department stores.

Coming in far ahead of plan, discounters drove their sales up by 3.1%, easily exceeding a forecast of 2.5% growth. But following a strong performance during the past two months as consumers spent more freely and splurged on seasonal apparel, department stores stumbled, their sales moving up a strong 3.8%, but falling short of a target of 4.3% growth.

Redbook analyst Catlin Levis noted that holiday merchandise is showing up in stores and retailers are promoting earlier than usual. "Big discounters already began slashing prices on toys and games and planned price cuts on electronics such as high-definition TVs, cell phones and digital cameras before the holiday season."

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