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Retail Sales Holding Their Own

Tax-free holidays in some states helped the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index rise 4 percent in the first week of August, edging past a targeted gain of 3.9 percent.

“August is similar to July, somewhat transitional and characterized by final summer clearance and the shift in inventory to back-to-school merchandise and fall apparel,” stated Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “Stores differ in the way they time the transition, but most are fully positioned by the end of August. Summer clearances are generally being priced less aggressively than usual following weather-driven selling earlier in the season, mainly in June, which left inventories leaner than expected.”

She added that some retailers, on the other hand, say their business in these areas remains on track, with wider margins compensating for smaller volume. Elsewhere, activity was sustained by non-seasonal categories, including consumer basics and food, according to Levis.

Johnson Redbook Index
First week of August

Week ended 8/6 8/13 8/20 8/27 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.4 3.4 3.3
Discounters 4.3 4.3 4.2
Redbook Average 4.0 4.0 3.9

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