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Sales strong at September finish line

NEW YORK -- Helped by cooler weather and a last-minute pick-up in sales of seasonal apparel, same-store retail sales firmed up during the fifth and final week of September, rising by 3.5 percent, and improving on a smaller 2.9 percent increase the week before, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

But the 11th hour sales bump wasn't enough to take sales for all of September much ahead of plan, and a five-week gain of 3.2 percent barely edged ahead of a goal of a 3.1 percent increase.

For all of September, department store sales met their expectations with sales of 2.8 percent. And discounters modestly exceeded plan with a gain of 3.5 percent versus a target of 3.3 percent.

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