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July comps fell 5.6%

New York – Although back-to-school demand improved sales toward the end of the week, over same-store sales declined 5.4% for the fourth week of July, the Johnson Redbook reported today.

Comps fell 5.6% compared to July 2008. Month-over-month, comps dropped 1.6% from June; Redbook had expected a more modest 0.9% decline.

Discounters finished the month right on target, with a 3.6 drop in July. But department stores’ 7.4% comp decline dragged down the broader index.

“Merchants reported that tax-free holidays across Georgia and Mississippi states drew more store traffic than on a normal weekend,” said Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst. “Most retailers, however, do not expect to be able to assess back-to-school much before September.”

Redbook’s preliminary target for August is -4.9% same-store growth, leaving the month about 1.2% below July.

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