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Retail sales gain momentum

New York — With sales momentum gaining as consumers picked up the pace of their spending over the past two weeks, same-store retail sales did something of an about face during the first week of October, rising above year-ago and month-before levels and beating plan across the board.

The Redbook Retail Sales Average reported that same-store sales inched up by 0.4 percent above last October's results, modestly ahead of a revised target of a 0.2 percent increase. And sales improved by a full 1.0 percent over a weak start to September, besting a forecast gain of 0.6 percent.

Perhaps just as important to a home fashions industry hard-pressed for good news lately, sales of home goods were among the top merchandise categories at discounters, coming in just behind consumables and food.

Importantly, both department stores and discounters alike performed ahead of plan, as consumers jump-started spending after weeks of shunning the malls. Sales at the nation's mass merchants improved by 3.0 percent over 2001 levels, beating a planned increase of 2.6 percent, the Redbook reported. And department sales, while still weak, beat their target as well, with a 3.6 percent decline during the week coming in somewhat ahead of a forecast drop of 3.9 percent.

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