Americans remained cautious in July, retail figures show

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• JEWELRY: Down 1.2 percent overall, but at the high end, revenue dropped 13 percent, compounding a 13.3 percent decline a year ago.

• FURNITURE: Down 8.2 percent from a year ago, when business fell 10.5 percent. July’s decline marked three straight months of decreases after a surge early in the year as the category benefited from housing tax credits.

• MAJOR APPLIANCES: Up 1.8 percent in July from a year ago, when revenue fell almost 10 percent. The increase may have been due to the hot weather ,which drove air conditioner sales, Mr. McNamara said.

• ELECTRONICS: Up 0.8 percent in July compared with July 2009’s 15.4 percent drop. Mr. McNamara said that heavy discounting on TVs to make room for the latest models offset solid sales of newer products such as Apple Inc.’s iPads.

• ONLINE: Up 10.9 percent in July from a year ago,, when it fell 2.8 percent from July 2008.

The data comes a day before selected major retailers report on sales at their stores that have been open at least a year, considered a key indicator of a chain’s health because it excludes results from stores that open or close during the year.

Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at International Council of Shopping Centers, said he expects his group’s composite figure to rise between 3 percent and 4 percent. In July 2009, it fell 5 percent.


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