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‘Class’ over ‘Mass’ in early October comps

New York – The nation's mass merchants recorded sluggish sales, more than offsetting a strong performance at department stores, as overall same-store retail sales rose 3.4% during the first week of October, slightly lagging a target of 3.5% growth, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Helped by lower prices at the pump that put more disposable income in consumers’ pockets, department stores substantially outperformed their discounter peers, driving sales up by 4.1% from year-ago levels, besting a goal of 3.8%. Discounters reported slower growth of 3.0%, well beneath a target of 3.4% growth.

Measured on a month-over-month basis, comps were up 1.3% from the first week of September, lagging a plan of 1.4% growth.

“Sales were mixed in the first week of October, on to modestly below plan at most stores,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. “Sales improved toward the weekend as temperatures fell to more fall-like levels in many parts of the country, triggering seasonal demand for apparel.”

Levis observed, “October is the final month of the third quarter for most retailers, and it is an important period for retailers to meet quarterly sales and earnings targets.”

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