WASHINGTON (MNI) – The following is the text of the weekly retail
sales report released by Johnson Redbook Wednesday, for the
month-to-date through the week-ended December 7:

The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index was up 2.2% in the second
week of December following a 2.1% gain the prior week. Month-to-date,
December was up 2.2% compared to December of last year (relative to a
target of a 2.6% gain). Month-over-month showed a 0.2% drop (relative to
a target of a 0.2% gain). December is a five-week month on the retail
calendar, ending on December 29th.

Sales were mixed in the second week. Some retailers saw business
pick up, influenced by the beginning of Hanukah, which began on December
8th, earlier than last year, pumping some holiday sales for the week.
Others said they had entered the expected “soft middle” of the holiday
season. Sales growth at discount stores continued to be strongest in
basic consumables, food, toys and electronics. Procrastinating consumers
still have more than two weeks to complete their holiday shopping.
Meanwhile, online shopping remained at a strong pace and increasingly
popular gift cards have made it easier for people to delay holiday
shopping, shifting sales to the period after the holiday season; gift
card sales don’t record the sales revenue until the cards are used.

** MNI Washington Bureau (202) 371-2121 **