RETAIL TRADE: Merchants Take Stock

Expecting a post-holiday reaction from the Christmas buying spree, U.S. retailers found to their surprise that the spree is still going on. In the first week of January, department-store sales were 26% above 1941; in the second week, a fabulous 32%. Less than half this rise can be attributed to higher prices. At their regular January white sales, department store counters were jammed with hoarders, laying in supplies of everything from cotton sheets to wool socks.

To retailers, this was a mixed blessing. It forced them to reappraise their own inventory policies, do a little...

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