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Clothing chain Cato reports flat August sales

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Cato Corp., the women's clothing store, reported Thursday that sales at stores open at least a year were flat in August.

Sales at stores open at least a year is a closely watched measure of a retailer's health, because it strips out the volatility of newly opened or closed stores.

Total revenue, which does include that effect, rose 2 percent over the year, to $62.1 million from $60.6 million. Cato added a net of 13 stores in that period, bringing its total to 1,298.

CEO John Cato said the results were "within our range of expectations," and made a muted prediction for the future. He said he was cautious about the rest of the year, "given the continuing economic and political situation." For the year so far, sales at stores open at least a year are down 2 percent.

Cato runs its namesake stores as well as Versona and It's Fashion, with a focus on women and girls.