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Discounters in Comp Sales Rally

With last-minute Halloween shopping providing a boost to the nation's discounters, same-store retail sales improved by 3.4% during the first week of November, breezing past a target of 3.2% growth and offsetting unexpected weakness at department stores.

Coming in far ahead of plan, discounters drove their sales up by 3.1%, easily exceeding a forecast of 2.5% growth. But following a strong performance during the past two months as consumers spent more freely and splurged on seasonal apparel, department stores stumbled, their sales moving up a strong 3.8%, but falling short of a target of 4.3% growth.

"The latest week included last minute Halloween related merchandise shopping, which gave a lift to customer traffic and sales for discounters early in the week," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Halloween shopping also helped to spur sales across a broad range of cooler weather apparel categories and basic consumables."

At the same time, the analyst observed, holiday merchandise is showing up in stores and retailers are promoting earlier than usual. "Big discounters already began slashing prices on toys and games and planned price cuts on electronics such as high-definition TVs, cell phones and digital cameras before the holiday season."

Levis said retailers "hope the decline in gasoline prices will put more discretionary dollars in consumers' pockets, especially among lower-income consumers."

Johnson Redbook Index
First week of November, year-over-year % change

Week ended 11/4 11/11 11/18 11/25 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.8 3.8 4.3
Discounters 3.1 3.1 2.5
Redbook Index 3.4 3.4 3.2


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