RETAILING: Easter Profits, Summer Danger

Last week U.S. department stores entered the No. 2 selling season of the year (Easter week) with the best prospects in ten years. Partly they could thank defense spending and the public's fear of higher prices. Partly they could thank their own recent merchandising aggressiveness, stimulated by the chains and mail-order houses to whom they had been losing ground. With March volume 10-15% ahead of 1940, and April even better, department stores may this year equal their 1930 levels, if not the 1929 peak.

Since department stores, like railroads, have a relatively inflexible overhead, their profits tend to rise faster than...

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