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Same-store sales still strong in Sept.

Extending a recent winning streak, same-store retail sales perked up by 3.6 percent over year-ago levels during the first week of September, driven by strong sales of home goods and robust Labor Day weekend sales, the Redbook Retail Sales Average reported.

Sales came in slightly ahead of plan — a target of 3.4 percent growth — helped by strong growth at discounters, where sales for the week improved by 5.2 percent, besting a target of a 4.8 percent increase. Sales at department stores were on target, rising by 1.2 percent.

While running well ahead of year-before levels, sales slipped by 0.9 percent from the strong first week of August, but still came in better than expected, beating a forecast decline of 1.1 percent.

For a second straight week, sales of home-related goods, including domestics, helped drive the gains. Redbook analyst Catlin Levis said, "Home-related goods such as household appliances, home furnishings and other domestic soft line items sold well.

"Most retailers reported an excellent Labor Day holiday. With better than expected sales growth on Sunday and Monday as this year's back-to-school season reached its peak. Thereafter, business tailed off sharply in the middle of the week, only to build up again into the week end. The net result was not quite as strong as the previous week, but was enough to lift our model ahead of plan."

Discounters, said Levis, "reported strength in categories such as children's clothing, shoes and lower-margin back-to-school supplies. Some discounters are cautious that rising gasoline prices may restrain demand." Results at department stores, she noted, "were more ambiguous."

Breaking out results on a regional basis, Levis said, "The Northeast and Midwest, on balance, outperformed the rest of the country."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
First week of September

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 1.2 1.2
Discounters 5.2 5.2 4.8
Redbook Average 3.6 3.6 3.4

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