Despite slower job gains and signs of flagging consumer confidence, consumers hit the malls in May to refresh their wardrobes as the summer shopping season begins.
Major chain stores posted a 3.9% sales increase in May compared with the same month a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations of a 3.6% rise, according to Thomson Reuters' tally of 18 retailers.
Top performers were a mixture of high- and low-end stores. Action-sports chain Zumiez Inc. led the way with a 13.7% bump. Luxury retailer Nordstrom Inc. saw sales rise 5.3%. Benefiting from a continuing thrifty mindset, off-price retailers Ross Stores Inc. and TJX Cos. saw an 8% rise. Limited Brands, parent company of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, said sales rose 6%.
The healthy May jump in sales comes on the heels of a poor April when more than half of retailers posted lower-than-expected results.