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U.S. Store Chains Report Solid Gain In Weekly Sales

By Agence France-Presse Major U.S. retail chains reported a solid gain in sales last week as cooler weather spurred shoppers to buy winter goods, a survey showed Tuesday. Sales rose 0.5% in the week ending Oct. 9, improving after a 0.3% gain the previous week, a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and UBS Warburg showed. Compared with a year earlier, sales during the week were up 3.7%. "Sales were generally on to above plan as Columbus Day sales helped drive consumer traffic this past week," said ICSC chief economist Michael Niemira, alluding to a boost in sales before the three-day weekend. "This past week, the demand for seasonal goods also picked up as cooler temperatures took hold and drove sales at department stores." Sales were expected to rise 3% to 4% in October from a year earlier, after a 2.4% increase in September, the ICSC said. "High gasoline prices have certainly not disappeared and will likely drag down the underlying pace of sales in October by about an estimated 0.5 percentage points," the report said. But cooler weather should help boost sales in the month, it said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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