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NEW YORK CITY-November same-store sales were up a “disappointingly weak” 1.7%, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ monthly report. Sales were down due to bargain hunting that led to “sporadic spending on promotional goods” and an increase in Internet and catalog shopping, according to ICSC, which surveyed 71 chain stores.

But on the brighter side for retailers, last-minute shoppers may not have yet started their shopping last month. According to a recent ICSC and UBS survey, only 6% of consumers have completed their holiday shopping. ICSC predicts a December sales increase of 3.5% to 4%.

Department stores were the only sector that, with a 2% jump, performed better than its year-to-date average, which has been 1.8%. J.C. Penney led with a 12% rise, followed by Neiman Marcus’ 8.4% jump. May Department Stores posted the largest decrease, falling 7.9%.

Apparel chains were mixed. American Eagle Outfitters continued its hot streak with a 24.3% gain, and United Retail Group also had a strong month, with an 11% jump. But Ann Taylor fell 8.3%, Limited Brands fell 5% and Gap Inc. dropped 4%.

Discounters, with a 1% gain, were well below their average so far this year of 3.3%. Wal-Mart was up by 0.3%, compared to its 2004 average of 2.9%. Target fared better, with a 3.2% jump.

Wholesale clubs were up 3.9% as a sector. Costco led the way with a 5% spurt, and Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Clubs rose 2.9%.

Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation released a report that says retail executives’ opinions of the industry’s performance were unchanged from October to November. Year-over-year the NRF’s Retail Sector Performance Index jumped 2.4 points in November.

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