Same-store sales posted by U.S. retailers this July beat analyst expectations with an increase of 4.6 percent, according to a report from Reuters. Thomson Reuters expected the increase to be a more modest 3.1 percent.
But the spike might be more the result of deep discounts offered by retailers for the back to school season than a real resurgence in shopper appetite.
"The consumer has decided to shake off the bad news and is stocking up for back to school," said Madison Riley, managing director of retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon. "All retailers are looking at the second half with caution, so you want to bring in freshness as soon as you can."
Riley and others noted that the earlier start to back-to-school shopping had probably pulled forward some of that business from August and September.
According to ICSC's tally of 22 retailers, same-store sales in July rose 1.9 percent. The overall number was dragged down by Walgreens/Express Scripts break-up. Without factoring in drugstores' performance, same-store sales for the month would have risen 4.6 percent, ICSC reports.
Apparel retailers posted one of the strongest performances, with an increase of 9.2 percent, followed by wholesale clubs, at 5 percent. Drugstore chains posted a decline of 5.2 percent.