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Department stores drive strong retail sales

NEW YORK — Tearing ahead at an impressive pace for a fourth straight week, same-store retail sales surged by 6.9 percent during the fourth week of March, helped by an exceptionally strong gain at the nation's full-price department stores, The Redbook Average reported.

Enjoying a brief, if not protracted, revival after languishing for more than two years, department stores actually outperformed their mass merchant rivals for a second straight week, pouring on a sales gain of 8.5 percent, easily surpassing a strong 6 percent increase at discounters.

Retail sales have now been building steadily throughout the month, putting up respective weekly gains of 5.1 percent, 5.4 percent, 6.3 percent and now 6.9 percent.

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