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BTS, tax-free weekend spur comp increases

New York - The tax-free weekend in some states coupled with the kickoff of the back-to-school season helped boost comps by 3.7% last week, following a 2.9% gain in the prior week, according to the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index.

Month-to-date, July same-store sales were up 3.2% compared to July of last year, outpacing Redbook's 3.1% target. Month-over-month showed a 1.0% gain, besting Redbook's expected 0.9% gain.

In the fourth and final retail week of July, which ended Aug. 3, comps rose 4.2% in the discount channel and 2.6% in the department store sector.

"Some retailers reported a firmer tone in sales toward the weekend, which they attributed to the beginning of back-to-school demand as well as the tax free holiday across 12 states, which kicked off at the end of the week," noted Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst. "Shoppers stocked up on tax-free school supplies and apparel. Merchants reported that the tax-free holiday drew more store traffic than on a normal weekend."

Redbook's preliminary target for August is for 3.5% same-store growth, which would put the month about 0.2% ahead of July.

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