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Overall, sales on top titles will be up anywhere from 20-30%, with chart-topping Mercury Nashville superstar Shania Twain leading the way, headed towards 400k in sales, a boost of 25% from last week's total of 328k.

SALES EXPLODING 20-30%, SHANIA #1, MCGRAW, LAVIGNE, AALIYAH, NOW 11, DIXIE CHICKS VIE FOR #2

Dixie Chick, Avril, J.Lo Also Up in Lively Market
Maybe it'll be a merry Christmas after all for record retailers.

With sales off after a brisk Thanksgiving weekend, whose late date is chopping a full week off the holiday shopping season, buyers have returned to the marketplace with a vengeance.

Overall, sales on top titles will be up anywhere from 20-30% from the previous week, with chart-topping Mercury Nashville superstar Shania Twain leading the way, headed towards 400k in sales, a boost of 25% from this week's total of 328k.

This week's runner-up, fellow country icon Tim McGraw's Curb album could approach 300k, a rise of about 20%, leaving him vying for second place with Arista skate punk phenom Avril Lavigne, Blackground/Universal's Aaliyah, UTV's Now 11 and Open Wide/Monument/Columbia's Dixie Chicks.

Lavigne is showing a remarkable 50% rise, from 184k this week to a projected total of 250-260k next week, for a total sales figure of more than 3 million to date.

The Chicks, meanwhile, will be the week's single largest gainers, with an estimated 100% rise, from 130k to a predicted 260k, based largely on Tuesday's (12/10) widely watched prime-time TV showing of Live From the Kodak Theatre.

As far as this week's new releases (those which came out last Tuesday [12/16]) and debut on the chart next week), Epic's B2K is gaining steam and could well approach the 200k mark, while Arista's Whitney Houston project is now looking at a first-week total of 180-200k.

Retailers are looking for a comparable 20-30% jump the following week as well, leading into Dec. 25.

Ho ho ho.

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