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July 12, 2013

Retailers report strong gains for June

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

"The reports are encouraging," Niemira said. "We had seen consumers pull back a littler earlier this year, but now there's a willingness to spend. It adds to the flavor of the other economic data out there that looks better."

Indeed, while big chains such as Wal-Mart Stores, Target Corp. and Macy's Inc. no longer report monthly revenue, the stores that do offer economists a snapshot of consumer spending habits. In total, the retailers that report monthly data represent about 6 percent of the $2.4 trillion in U.S. retail industry sales.

One of the retailers that reported monthly revenue is Stein Mart, a department store chain that sells everyday low prices on top brands. The retailer said June revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 6.5 percent, driven by strong sales of women's clothing. Analysts had expected a 4 percent increase.

Stein Mart had the biggest gains in women's casual sportswear and boutique items. Weaker areas were men's sportswear, women's accessories and plus-size clothing.

Costco Wholesale Corp. also was among the retailers that posted a revenue increase in June. The wholesale-club operator said revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 6 percent, topping Wall Street's expectations. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a 5.4 percent increase in the figure.

Despite the gains in June, analysts caution that shoppers remain deal hungry.

For instance, Jamie Achilli, a mother who lives in Carrollton, Tex., has been taking advantage of deals at Kohl's Corp. Among the bargains she grabbed were $4 yoga pants originally priced at $20. She also bought tops for $2 for her two-year old daughter.

"I loaded up on clothes for myself," said Achilli, 35. "I waited until they went to 80 percent clearance."

Dan Granger, 41, from Peters, Missouri, also said he's remained frugal because he's still digging himself out of from the Great Recession. He and his family are renting a condominium after losing their home, and he had been unemployed for two years before finding a job as a maintenance manager for a commercial real estate company in February 2012.

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