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Home drives early September spike

Staging a strong comeback from a lackluster summer, same-store retail sales rebounded strongly during the first week of September, climbing by 2.2 percent, somewhat better than expected, after skidding downward for the three previous weeks.

The Redbook Retail Sales Average rose by 2.2 over year-before levels, besting a forecast gain of 2.0 percent. Coming on strong, the gain of more than 2 percent marked a big improvement over the 0.2 percent decline recorded the previous week.

As shoppers returned to the malls, sales were up by 0.6 percent over August, beating a targeted increase of 0.4 percent

In particularly good news for home fashions producers, home furnishings were strong performers during the month, returning to their earlier strong form after displaying some weakness during the summer months.

Redbook analyst Catlin Levis said, "Home-related goods did well, including not only big-ticket items such as household appliances but also home furnishings and other domestic housewares."

Levis said, "September began on a higher note for most retailers following August's below-plan performance. The week's results were essentially on, to slightly above, what retailers were expecting."

For department stores, Levis noted, "this represented a recovery from the softness of the past few weeks." Department store sales slipped by just 1.5 percent during the week, better than a forecast drop of 2.3 percent, and a big improvement over a steep drop of 5.2 percent recorded for all of August.

Same-store sales at the nation's discounters jumped up by an on-plan 4.7 percent, said Levis, showing "strength in food, electronics and traditional Back-to-School categories such as children's clothing and school supplies."

Overall sales, said Levis, "continue to be driven by the twin themes of Back-to-School and seasonal apparel. Back-to-School business appeared to be firmer at lower price points."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
First week of September

Week ended 9/7 9/14 9/21 9/28 10/5 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* -1.5 -1.5 -2.3
Discounters 4.7 4.7 4.7
Redbook Average 2.2 2.2 2.0

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