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Mild weather, King holiday, football warm January sales

NEW YORK -- With consumers still flocking to the malls to cash in their gift cards or buy into post-Christmas clearance sales, same-store retail sales came in modestly ahead of expectations during the third week of January, perking up by 3.6 percent, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Measured on a three-week, month-over-month basis, sales were up 3.3 percent, compared with January 2005, beating a target of a 3.1 percent.

Redbook analyst Catlin Levis pointed to several factors, including:

- Warmer weather across parts of the country encouraged shoppers to purchase spring merchandise at full price.

- Some merchants claimed to notice a stronger tone during the Martin Luther King weekend.

- At discount stores beverages and food were the week's top seller, in part due to college bowl games and the National Football League playoffs.

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