Retail chains show strong sales in May


CHICAGO -- Chain store sales were mostly up last month, evidence that consumer interest in new retail goods has begun to re-emerge, analysts said yesterday.

While many retailers cited hot weather as a catalyst for purchases, especially in the Midwest, analysts said the trend showed an improvement in consumers' attitudes toward the economy.

Some stores posted better-than-expected results.

Of nine major retailers, five turned in their best performance since at least the start of the year, said David Kelly, a consumer specialist at Data Resources Inc. in Lexington, Mass.

Wal-Mart stores' May sales were up 13 percent, above its 12 percent gain for the year so far, said Catherine Cooper, an economist at Kemper Financial Services here.

K mart sales also were strong, rising 8.5 percent in May. Ms. Cooper said K mart focused on low prices in May.

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