War Babies

As of last week, the real war babies of World War II were not munitions makers but department stores. Wall Streeters, bypassing steels, chemicals, etc., suddenly discovered them, pushed twelve of the 23 department-store stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange to new 1941 highs. Six big merchandisers reported profits of $4,691,000 in the first half of this year, more than three times 1940's first half.

Meanwhile housewives—especially farmers' wives—kept up a buying spree (see chart} that sent last month's retail sales to an all-time high.

Since store operating costs are relatively inflexible, net profits soar much faster...

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