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Report: September Packaged-Media Sales Up, General Retail Down

14 Oct, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Cooler temperatures and a later-than-usual Labor Day weekend contributed to a slight uptick in September retail sales of books, music CDs and other packaged media, including DVD movies, according to the National Retail Federation.

The Washington-based retail trade association said sales of books, music and related discount entertainment items such as DVDs increased 0.1% in the month compared to August, and rose 2.9% year-over-year.

NRF spokesperson Ellen Davis said DVDs could be categorized in many ways depending on how a retailer markets them. She said Wal-Mart considers DVD a discount item, as do many national chains.

“Since many book stores and music stores sell movie DVDs, they would also be included in the percentage increase,” Davis said.

The improvement is in contrast to September retail sales released Oct. 14 by the U.S. Commerce Department showing total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 1.5% seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 5.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

Electronics and appliance store sales were flat from the previous month and decreased 9.9% unadjusted over last year, according to the NRF.

“Retail is not out of the woods yet, but consumers felt comfortable enough last month to spend on more than just necessities,” said Rosalind Wells, chief economist with the NRF. “As we head into the essential fourth quarter, retailers will likely continue aggressive promotions and discounts to bring people back into stores.”

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