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NATION : Yule Sales Best in Nearly Two Years

The Christmas shopping season proved the best in nearly two years for the nation’s largest general retailers with most stores posting strong December sales gains.

“Sales were better than we expected,” said Jeffrey Edelman, a retail industry analyst with the investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. Analysts estimated that industrywide sales rose in a range of 6% to 7.5%. Jeffrey Feiner, an analyst with Merrill Lynch & Co., said the tone of business was vastly improved over the disappointing Christmas, 1987, season, when retailers were forced to slash prices to lure customers. Sears, Roebuck & Co., the nation’s largest retailer, said its December sales rose 12.1%. K mart Corp. reported a 10.7% gain, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recorded a hefty 31% increase and May Department Stores Co. said its December sales soared 30%.


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