Sales at the nation's chain stores are expected to show a 4.1 percent gain in July, an improvement over the 2.5 percent sales increase a year earlier, Retail Metrics is reporting.
Retail demand has improved since spring along with improvements in housing, employment and consumer confidence, the research firm said in a report today.
Most retailers are slated to release monthly results, which measure sales at stores open a least a year, later this week.
Mall traffic slowed in July, but extremely hot weather gave a boost to summer clearance merchandise, Retail Metrics said. Tax-free holidays in 12 states also helped.
Teen apparel chain American Eagle Outfitters, which said sales slid 7 percent, was forced to mark down items more than expected, raising concerns for other teen chains that are counting on the key back to school season, the report said.
But luxury retailers are going strong, with sales at Michael Kors soaring more than 27 percent, Retail Metrics said.
Some fashion apparel, accessories and footwear chains also are showing strength, with Fossil turning in a strong second quarter thanks to its watch and jewelry sales and DSW reporting a same-store sales gain of 4.3 percent. Retail Metrics expects July sales at department stores to be flat.
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