Redbook average lifted by late shopping spree

New York — Given a lift by last-minute shoppers and bargain-seekers, same-store sales moved up by 1.5 percent during the fourth week of December, pushing overall retail sales for the first four weeks of the month ahead of expectation, but still somewhat beneath last year's dismal level, the widely watched Redbook Retail Average reported.

Predictably, the nation's mass merchants continued their strong performance with a 4.5 percent increase for the week, but department store sales, while improving, still fell 1.8 percent behind last year's sales levels.

"Sales improved substantially for the Christmas week as traffic counts were up from the previous period and the average purchase was larger," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Most of our sample companies reported sales that were at or above plan. With one more week to go in fiscal December, retailers' overall results for the month were above their modest expectations."

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