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Retail sales holding their own

NEW YORK -- Tax-free holidays in some states helped the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index rise 4 percent in the first week of August, edging past a targeted gain of 3.9 percent.

“August is similar to July, somewhat transitional and characterized by final summer clearance and the shift in inventory to back-to-school merchandise and fall apparel,” stated Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “Stores differ in the way they time the transition, but most are fully positioned by the end of August. Summer clearances are generally being priced less aggressively than usual following weather-driven selling earlier in the season, mainly in June, which left inventories leaner than expected.”

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