NEW YORK — Prompted by a thaw in the weather and geopolitical conditions, as well as an abundance of sales signs, consumers got back to shopping in May.

More of the nation’s retailers managed to eke out comparable-store sales gains than declines in May, reflecting more aggressive markdown activity to help clear high spring-summer inventories. The combination of markdowns and a rainy Memorial Day weekend drew consumers previously stricken with cabin fever to the malls, particularly in the Northeast.

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