WASHINGTON — National Retail Federation here on Monday said retail sales for October were up 2.6% over a year ago, indicating a relatively strong start for the holiday season. The NRF numbers, which exclude auto sales, gas stations and restaurants, were released as the U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales rose even more when those items were included. The Commerce Department said Monday that its tally of October retail sales showed a 5.4% gain over year-ago levels, and a 1.2% ...

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