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Mom Lifts Retail to First Weekly Gains in Months

Retailers have another reason to thank moms, as Mother's Day provided the first year-over-year sales boost for their industry in any week since December

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Mother's Day, combined with some warmer weather, lifted sales for the week ended May 9 by 0.3 percent compared to the week before and 0.5 percent versus the same week in 2008. That's the first time since December that weekly sales gained versus the seven-day period a year earlier, and the gain represented the largest advance recorded since the week of November 29.

Mother's Day is likely to be the retail high point for the month of May, though, in year over year terms. Retailers have been warning that the effect of United States government stimulus checks, which were arriving in May of last year, will make comparisons particularly rough for the current month, and even Wal-Mart made the point that the rebates will hit its year over year comparisons for May and the whole second quarter.

ICSC expects May sales will be flat to down one percent, as Michael Niemira, its chief economist, warned:

For the fiscal month of May, the biggest challenge facing retailers is that consumers received about $50 billion in federal tax rebate monies in May 2008 of which about one-third was spent, and that poses a difficult year-over-year comparison, especially for discounters that benefited the most last year from those rebates.
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