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Retailers up in October but holiday concerns remaining

Nov. 02, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Americans spent briskly in October before Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast on the tail-end of the month. But the question is whether they're still willing to buy an iPhone for Christmas if they plunked down hundreds on a generator for Sandy?

Twenty-one retailers from club operator Costco to department store Macy's reported that sales in October through last Saturday were up 5 percent compared with the year-ago period, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. That beat the trade group's estimated growth of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent. Results were not hurt by the storm because it hit the East Coast on Monday, two days after the period for which retailers were reporting sales ended.

But analysts worry that the strong sales in October could spell trouble for the upcoming holiday shopping season in November and December, a time when many retailers make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. They fear that many Americans in some of the nation's biggest cities who bought generators, bottled water and other emergency and cleanup supplies before and after the storm will be less inclined to spend over the holidays.

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