By  on June 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — The government's tax rebate checks are giving some much-needed relief to retailers.

Retail sales at department stores increased 0.8 percent to $17.1 billion in May from the previous month, while specialty store sales gained 0.5 percent to $18.98 billion. Analysts said the gains in May were largely driven by the federal tax rebate checks distributed in late spring. By the end of the month, $50 billion in stimulus funds had been sent to consumers.

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