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Keeping Track: retail sales

Record sales reported after September slump

Retail sales surged by a record 7.1 percent in October, pushed largely by consumers jumping at zero-interest car deals. Most analysts said the gain did not shake their view that the economy was pushed into recession by the Sept. 11 attacks, but some said the downturn may be milder than first feared.

Excluding auto sales, which were up a record 26 percent, overall retail sales rose by only 1 percent in October. In fact, many top retailers reported a falloff in sales from a year ago.

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