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NEW YORK CITY-Same-store sales rose 3.8% year over year last month, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers report. Weather during September was favorable to fall apparel sales, says the report, and consumers shifted away from purchasing products at wholesale clubs.

Department stores, up 8.4%, posted their best results as a group since January 1997. The group was led by Kohl’s 16.3% leap and a 13.4% rise at Nordstrom. Dillard’s, which had reported sales declines over the past three months, had flat sales in September.

Wholesale clubs inched up 2.5%, compared to their year-to-date average monthly gain of 5.3%. BJ’s Wholesale had a drop of 0.9%, while Costco was the head performer in the category with a 4% gain.

Specialty-apparel chains had a strong showing, rising 4.6%. Without a 3%-slide by Gap Inc.’s brands, the category’s gain would have been 8.9%. Double-digit gainers were American Eagle Outfitters, at 19%; Limited Brands, up 12%; and Abercrombie & Fitch, which jumped 10%.

Discount chains were a mixed bunch, up 2.6% overall. TJX Cos. soared, increasing 9%, and Target was close behind, up 6.7%. But Wal-Mart only moved up 1.3%, and Dollar General posted just a 0.5% gain.

ICSC’s research department predicts a 3% to 3.5% gain for the current month. Consumers will concentrate on Halloween and holiday-season shopping during the period, says Michael Niemira, the organization’s chief economist and director of research.

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