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    Retail Sales Jump

    Retailers benefited from heat wave, July 4 holiday.

    NEW YORK -- Two reports released yesterday suggest that extreme heat and a patriotic holiday drove U.S. consumers into air-conditioned stores, helping lift chain store sales in the last retail week of June, Reuters reports.

    Sales at U.S. chain stores rose 0.7 percent in the week ended July 6 after a 0.9 percent decline in the previous week, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (BTM) and UBS Warburg said in a joint weekly report.

    Separately, Instinet Research said sales during the five retail weeks of June -- which includes the July 4 holiday -- rose a solid 1.8 percent as consumers snapped up everything from air conditioners to summer clothing, according to its Redbook report.

    ?The Independence Day holiday and sales promotions as well as demand for seasonal goods drove the pick up in customer traffic and sales for the week,? BTM said.

    On average, Wall Street economists polled by Reuters forecast a 0.7 percent rise in sales for June after a 0.9 percent drop in May.

    Discount stores have continued to perform well as consumers look for value, analysts noted. Convenience stores and drug stores appear to be performing better. Leading convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc. said sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.4 percent in June. CVS Corp. said front-end sales -- which exclude pharmacy items -- at stores open more than one year rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier in June.

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