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Retail sales falling short of target

NEW YORK -- The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index was up 3.4 percent in the fourth and final week of August, lowering the month-to-date increase to 3.7 percent against a targeted 3.9 percent gain.

“Sales softened in the final week of August. Consumers focused on food, home appliances and electronics,” stated Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “Some retailers believe hot weather may be delaying back-to-school activity, especially in the apparel categories. Despite the month's softness, retailers continue to expect satisfactory back-to-school and fall business in coming weeks.

In anticipation of Hurricane Katrina, consumers in Florida and other affected states made a run for food, water, batteries and other emergency supplies, with discount stores and hardware stores being the main beneficiaries, she said.

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