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Retailers Post Mixed Results for January Sales
CNBC.com | February 02, 2012 | 10:59 AM EST

Retailers reported mixed sales results in January, offering a signal that American consumers remain cautious amid a weak economic recovery.

January was expected to be a tough month for retailers, who were looking to move excess inventory left over after a busy holiday season. That effort may have been hurt by the third-warmest January in 50 years, which weakened demand for heavy jackets, sweaters and other cold-weather gear.

Those who were able to keep tight control over their inventory, fared well as shoppers came looking for bargains and to redeem gift cards they received during the holiday. However, for others, the discount of as much as 70 percent were needed to clear the shelves, and that cut into profit margins.

Target, Zumiez , Limited Brands and Costco all reported same-store sales far above analysts' estimates.

Target Chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel reported strong performance in both discretionary and on-discretionary categories.

"Sales trends were healthy throughout the month and across the country," Steinhafel said.

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