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NEW YORK CITY-Same-store sales during the month of June rose 2.4% year over year, as this year’s results continue to come in weaker than the same period in 2006. Gas prices continued to hurt stores, though some retailers reported improvements as the month went on due to back-to-school sales, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers report.

Department stores were the sector hit the hardest, falling 2.5%. Kohl’s ran into the most trouble, dropping 4.9%, and Macy’s Inc. slid 2.7%. Even Nordstrom, which has average monthly gains this year of 7.1%, rose just 2%.

Apparel also experienced decreases as a sector, slipping 0.5%. Ann Taylor fell 8.4%, while Chico’s FAS dropped 7.3%. Ross Stores fared better than most, gaining 4%, and Limited Brands increased 3%.

The discount sector fared slightly better, rising 2.1%. TJX Cos. was up 5%, and Target followed with a 3.3% gain. Wal-Mart’s discount stores inched up 1.6%.

Wholesale clubs were strong as a group, increasing 6.3%. Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Clubs was the leader in the sector, shooting up 6.9%, while Costco jumped 6%. BJ’s Wholesale rose 5.3%.

ICSC’s research team expects sales to improve during the month of July, predicting an increase for the industry in the 2.5% to 3% range.

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