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Same-store sales best July targets

With the back-to-school season kicking in, and buoyed by sales of summer merchandise, same-store retail sales jumped 3.9 percent during the fourth and final week of July, providing a strong finish to the month, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

The nation's department stores turned in a notably strong performance, with sales climbing 3.8 percent, improving on a 2.7 percent increase the week before. Discounter sales rose 4 percent, slightly ahead of the prior-week increase of 3.9 percent.

For all of July, both department stores and discounters easily beat their targets, coming in substantially ahead of plan. Department stores finished out the month with a 2.8 percent boost, besting a targeted gain of 2.2 percent. Discounter sales climbed 3.4 percent, ahead of a targeted 2.8 percent increase.

Same-store sales for all of July rose 3.2 percent from year-before levels, beating a targeted 2.6 percent gain. Measured on a month-over-month basis, sales were 0.1 percent below June levels, a big improvement over a forecast decline of 0.7 percent.

"The final week saw increased traffic in stores and steady sales of summer goods, which they attributed to the beginning of back-to-school demand," said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. Some merchants, she added, benefited from sales-tax holidays in Florida and Georgia.

"Department stores produced better-than-expected sales growth, as the timing of promotional events turned favorable, giving a boost to the group's index. For most, however, the week was steady, much like the previous one, with strength across the board in consumables, soft lines and hardlines."

Overall, said the analyst, "The month turned out better than expected, with steady sell-throughs that were not excessively price-driven."

Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index
Fourth week of July

WEEK ENDED 7/10 7/17 7/24 7/31 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 2.3 2.3 2.7 3.8 2.8 2.2
Discounters 3.0 2.8 3.9 4.0 3.4 2.8
Redbook Index 2.8 2.6 3.5 3.9 3.2 2.6

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