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NEW YORK CITY-May chain store sales rose 3% from 2007, exceeding expectations, according to the recently-released International Council of Shopping Centers monthly Chain Store Sales Trends report. Discounters, drug stores and wholesale clubs such as Costco led the way, with increases of 3%, 3.2% and 4.6% (excluding fuel), respectively. Luxury stores posted a 4.1% increase. Apparel remains weak, with a 6.5% decline, with furniture dropping 6.4%.

ICSC expects June sales to rise 2% to 3% over the previous year. “Record high gasoline process and consumers’ worry about the economy will continue to hold back discretionary spending,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research, in the report. “But the federal tax rebate checks will begin to offset some of that drag.” The report is based on preliminary tally of 37 retail chains.

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