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NEW YORK CITY-Retailer’s same-store sales rose 3.7% year over year in January, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers’ research department, which had predicted a slighter, 2.5% to 3% rise. A demand for cold-weather goods and the redemption of holiday gift cards drove sales, the report says.

As they did through much of 2006, luxury department stores turned in a strong performance for the first month of the year. Saks Inc. rose 11.4%, Neiman Marcus was up 11.3% and Nordstrom posted a 11.1% gain. Kohl’s, with an 8.7% increase, led conventional department stores, while Dillards continued last year’s slide, falling 3%.

Apparel, up 3.3%, outdid last year’s average monthly increase of 1.1%. American Eagle Outfitters soared 17%, and Limited Brands was also up in double digits, hitting 11%. Gap Inc., with flat results, performed better than its monthly average slide of 6.3%.

Discounters, rising 2.6%, were just about in line with last year. Target posted a 5.1% gain, while Dollar General increased 6.8%. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart inched up 1.9%, just higher last year’s average.

Finally, wholesale clubs experienced a bit of shift after Costco, up 2%, did not lead the sector since November 2005. BJ’s Wholesale’s 3.5% gain was in front, followed by a 3.4% increase at Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Clubs.

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