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Same-stores enjoy late summer push

Fueled by Labor Day and Back-to-School sales, same-store retail sales jumped up again during the fourth and final week of August, climbing by 4.6 percent and helping to drive the entire month well ahead of plan.

The Redbook Retail Sales Average beat a sold 4.1 percent increase recorded the week before, and turned in its strongest performance of the month, extending a recent run-up in sales as consumers turned more bullish and eased up their grip on their wallets.

For the entire month of August, sales climbed higher by 3.8 percent, breezing past a target of 3.0 percent, and department stores and discounters both ended up in positive territory, surpassing their targets for the month.

Recovering from a long string of declines, department store sales rose by 1.9 percent during the final week of August, and by 1.2 percent for the entire month, besting a targeted gain of 1.0 percent. Shoppers drove discounter sales up by 6.2 percent during the closing week of August, and by 5.4 percent for the month, the month, blasting past the target of 4.2 percent.

"Consumer interest in the final week was on seasonal and Back-to-School merchandise with a focus on apparel, especially women's, children's and junior's clothing driven by favorable fall-like weather," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. Pricing pressure remained very competitive.

Levis commented, "A variety of factors, including the tax cut, tax rebate checks, continued mortgage refinancing activity and the strength of the housing market have made more consumers more confident, thereby increasing demand for home goods."

Looking ahead to September, Levis said the preliminary target for the month is a 3.5 percent year-over-year gain, a decline of 1.0 percent from the strong August results.

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Fourth week of August

Week ended 8/9 8/16 8/23 8/30 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* 1.2 0.7 0.8 1.9 1.2 1.0
Discounters 4.3 4.9 6.1 6.2 5.4 4.2
Redbook Average 3.1 3.3 4.1 4.6 3.8 3.0

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