Heavy discounts fuel only modest gains

Americans took a pause in shopping in October, leaving retailers with their weakest performance since April as unusually warm weather depressed their appetite for cold weather items.

Stores were forced to discount more on coats and hats to get shoppers to spend. And even as the weather cools, discounts will be necessary to keep pulling shoppers in amid high unemployment, analysts said.

The International Council of Shopping Centers index measuring revenue at stores open at least a year showed a 1.6 percent increase, the weakest performance since April’s 0.8 percent increase. October’s figure represented a slowdown from September, when it rose 2.6 percent.

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