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by Corilyn Shropshire

Chicago, IL - Retail sales in the Chicago area rose 5 percent in 2011 to $101.5 billion, the biggest year-over-year sales gain since 2006, according to a report released Monday by Melaniphy & Associates Inc., a Chicago-based retail and real estate consultancy.

Chicago-area shoppers are back in stores after a recession-induced spending break, according to John Melaniphy. “There is optimism that the worst is over, my job is not in jeopardy — I survived,” he said.

The boost was led by apparel and accessories sales, which jumped 19 percent last year, climbing to $5.5 billion, the highest since the recession began.

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