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by Allison Abell Schwartz

U.S. retailers reported sales gains in June as record-high temperatures on the East Coast pushed more shoppers into air-conditioned malls.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose more than analysts projected at Nordstrom Inc., JC Penney Co. and Macy’s Inc., according to estimates compiled by Retail Metrics Inc.

Gap Inc. said same-store sales were little changed from last year, falling short of the 3.7 percent estimated gain. Traffic was negative at all three of Gap’s brands, the San Francisco-based retailer said Thursday.

“Department stores benefited toward the end of the month from the excess heat across the country, particularly in the Northeast but also out West,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics.

July results may be similar, Perkins said, citing increased clearance sales in the first half and more hot weather across the United States. While more people visited shopping centers, some of that traffic failed to translate into purchases, leading more than half of retailers to miss projections, Swampscott, Mass.-based Retail Metrics said.

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