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U.S. retail sales pick up in May

Costco Wholesale Corp. did well with revenue in

Costco Wholesale Corp. did well with revenue in stores open at least a year up 5 percent. (June 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty

In the latest sign that Americans are feeling better about the overall economy, stores across the country had a pickup in sales in May.

Revenue at stores open at least a year -- an industry measure of a store's health -- rose 3.4 percent in May compared with the same month a year ago, according to a preliminary tally of 13 retailers released Thursday by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The increase continues a gradual sales uptick that began in early spring. The measure rose 3 percent in April.

"It's good, not great," said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the ICSC.

An improving job picture, better housing market and stock market rallies have all led to consumer confidence reaching five-year highs. That has left Americans a bit more likely to reach into their pockets and spend.

Big chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Macy's Inc. don't report monthly revenue.

In total, retailers that report monthly data represent about 6 percent of the $2.4 trillion in U.S. retail industry sales.

Accenture managing director Chris Donnelley said the monthly numbers are encouraging as weather became more predictable and shoppers acted on pent-up demand for spring and summer clothing.

Among the best performers were Costco Wholesale Corp., which reported revenue in stores open at least one year rose 5 percent.

Discount department store operator SteinMart had surprisingly strong results, with the measure up 8.2 percent.

Ladies' casual and career sportswear were also among its best categories for the month. L Brands Inc., which operates Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works and was formerly known as Limited Brands, said the figure rose 3 percent.

In the teen sector, the Buckle Inc.'s revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 4.1 percent in May, as teens snapped up spring and summer clothing.

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