RETAIL TRADE: Buying Fever

U.S. merchants, who always expect a letdown in business after the Christmas rush, blinked their eyes in amazement. The stores were jammed last week with customers engaged in the biggest buying spree since July. Department-store sales soared 39% over the same week a year ago.

The customers were laying in goods in the belief that 1) prices would soon be much higher, or 2) appliances which they had "always intended to get" would soon be off the market. Some dealers reported that sales of refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. were running three times as high as a year...

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