NEW YORK – Retail sales were 2.7% better in the week ended May 19 than the same week last year, after rising 3.7% in the prior week, according to the weekly retail sales report released by Johnson Redbook Tuesday.

Month-to-date, May grew 3.0% from May 2011, better than the 2.8% increase expected. But, sales slid 0.9% compared to April, better than the 1.1% decline expected.

“Sales were slower during the third week of May,” according to the report. “Shoppers are taking a break following Mother's Day and are delaying shopping pending Memorial Day promotions. Cooler and wet weather in some regions suppressed volume in seasonal business such as apparel, lawn and garden equipment and sporting goods. Department stores and, to a lesser extent, discount stores, have been particularly affected since this type of merchandise represents a relatively large percentage of their business. Retailers are hopeful that lower gasoline prices heading into the holiday will help to strengthen sales over the Memorial Day weekend.”

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