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Cool temps blamed for slowdown

NEW YORK — With the weather cooling off and consumers reining in their spending, retail same-store sales tapered off somewhat during the third week in May, rising by 2.1 percent above year-ago levels, the smallest gain recorded so far this month.

Making a stronger showing earlier in the month, same-store sales had pushed ahead by 2.6 percent the prior week, and by 2.2 percent during the first week of May, the Redbook Retail Sales Average reported.

Same-store sales for the three weeks month to date moved up by 2.3 percent, falling short of a target of a 2.6 percent increase, Redbook reported. Holding up the trend of recent months, department stores remained weak, with same-store sales declining by 0.8 percent for the week. Pulling in bargain-minded consumers, discounters drove their sales up by 3.5 percent.

"Several retailers said the pace of sales was ahead of plan in the beginning of the week but slowed down due to cool weather and unseasonably low temperatures in some parts of the country," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

Pressured by the cooler temperatures, "Sales of sporting goods, fans and air conditioners were slower than in recent weeks," said Levis. "Cooler weather also held back other seasonal business, especially at discount stores."

Seasonal issues aside, said Levis, "retailers said consistency in sales of food, cleaning supplies and health and beauty products remained firm. The West and Northeast were the most active areas."

Sales for the third week exclude the Memorial Day weekend, with some retailers saying that holiday sales "appeared slow," said Levis. "Hence, the month could end next week on a weaker note."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Third Week of May

Week Ended 5/12 5/19 5/26 6/2 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* -1.0 -0.6 -0.8 -0.8 -0.6
Discounters 3.6 4.0 3.5 3.7 4.1
Redbook Average 2.2 2.6 2.1 2.3 2.6

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