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Same-store sales continue to climb

Extending a recent turnaround, same-store retail stores continued their strong climb during the second week of August, improving by 3.3 percent following a 3.1 percent gain the prior week, the Redbook Retail Sales Average reported.

Through the first two weeks of August, sales had climbed by 3.2 percent, running ahead of a planned increase of 3.0 percent, getting a lift from tax rebate checks and home refinancing.

Even lagging department stores were in positive territory through the first two weeks, with sales on target and rising by 1.0 percent. Discounter sales for the first two weeks of the month were up by 4.2 percent, easily besting a target of 4.2 percent growth.

"Merchants appeared pleased by the continued momentum in the retail sector, especially at this early stage of the fall season," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Consumers have some extra money from tax rebates and home refinancing, and retailers, with a goal of getting fall sales off to an early start, are initiating a variety of promotional campaigns that encourage parents and teens to spend in their stores."

Retailers, said Levis, reported "some strength in non-essential items such as furniture, home furnishings and fashion apparel, showing that consumers are feeling more confident. Some discount stores noted the payroll cycle had been less significant for the past week, suggesting customers of these stores may be reverting to more normal buying patterns."

The widespread power outage that blacked-out part of the nation "had little impact on overall sales," Levis noted. "Some stores were actually able to take advantage of the adversity, selling more footwear, radios, bicycles, generators, flashlights, water and batteries. Despite the blackout — or perhaps helped by it — the Northeast was the strongest region."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Second week of July

Week ended 8/9 8/16 8/23 8/30 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* 1.2 0.7 1.0 1.0
Discounters 4.3 4.9 4.6 4.2
Redbook Average 3.1 3.3 3.2 3.0


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