RETAILING: Santa the Supersalesman

"They're not going to shoot Santa Claus," said an official of Gump's department store in San Francisco in the midst of the Christmas buying rush. And indeed, even before the gift wrapping had been torn from millions of presents, it was apparent that Christmas sales across the nation had exceeded all but the rosiest predictions. The surge might give the economic recovery some new momentum.

At Thanksgiving, most retailers were talking about a 10% gain in dollar sales over the dreadful 1974 Yuletide showing. Instead, it is now clear that the gain was at least 12%, and possibly as high as...

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