NEW YORK — The first true blast of cool fall weather arrived in the Midwest and Northeast just in time to put a fire under outerwear sales.

Retailers said sales were warmed during the traditional kickoff of the coat selling season, and as long as the climate cooperates, they believe business should be strong throughout the fourth quarter. Most stores said they were ahead compared with last year at the same time, although they noted that the weak economy has held back a better performance.

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