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September sales results stronger than expected

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers are reporting surprisingly solid sales gains for September, boosted by backto-school shopping, much of it was pushed into September by parents who had put off trips to the mall.

The results Thursday give hope for a positive holiday shopping season, although Americans are still dealing with an uncertain economy and high unemployment.

An array of stores including Macy’s Inc., Saks Inc., Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works parent Limited Brands Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch reported better-than-expected results.

Two notable exceptions were Gap Inc. and Target Corp., which missed estimates.

“I think retailers are pleasantly pleased by the strength of the back-toschool season,” said Ken Perkins, president of research firm RetailMetrics. “It’s turning out to be a solid month, which should bode well for the holiday shopping season.”

An improving stock market also might have spurred some shoppers to spend, he noted. The S&P 500 rose 9 percent during the month.

“It’s clear that back to school came later this year once again, with parents toting their children back to the malls and outlets in the first weeks of September after browsing in August,” said Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi.

Several retailers, including the Gap, Wet Seal and Target, reported that revenue dropped off in the second half of the month, particularly in the last week.

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