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July Comps Finish on High Note

Back-to-school and sales-tax holidays helped merchants finish the July retail month with a 3.2% comparable store sales gain in the fourth week, and up 2.9% for the month, just above the 2.8% goal, the Johnson Redbook reported.

July comps were 0.6% above June's, exceeding the 0.5% target.

Observing the final surge at month's end, Redbook analyst Catlin Levis observed, "Merchants reported that the tax-free holidays drew more store traffic than on a normal weekend."

"Shoppers stocked up on tax-free school supplies, computers, clothing and footwear in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia," she said.

Discounters achieved a 2.7% comp gain for July, beating the 2.4% goal. The 3.2% comp gain by department stores, however, missed that channel's goal of a 3.6% gain.

"Our preliminary target for August is 3.2% same-store growth, leaving the month about 0.3% ahead of July." said Levis.

Most retailers reported July sales last Thursday.

Johnson Redbook Index
Fourth week of July, year-over-year % change

Week ended 7/14 7/21 7/28 8/4 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.2 3.1 3.2 3.5 3.2 3.6
Discounters 2.5 2.6 2.7 3.0 2.7 2.4
Redbook Average 2.7 2.8 2.9 3.2 2.9 2.8