During times of economic struggle it is not uncommon for new consumer trends to surface, the latest of which is late bargain shopping. Retailers saw stronger-than-expected sales in September as shopping held out for back-to-school clearance bargains. This is a trend that many expect to be repeated during the holiday season.
Department stores and luxury chains also posted forecast-beating results, helping push retail shares higher.
But retail experts warned that shoppers are still cautious as they draw up budgets for the holiday season, as unemployment remains high. That means they are likely to hold out for discounts again even if overall spending rises from 2009.
"It was a late back-to-school season that started slowly while shoppers waited for discounts," said David Bassuk, managing director at AlixPartners' global retail practice. "And it looks like they'll do the same for the holidays."
U.S. same-store sales rose 2.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data which tracks 28 top chains, beating analysts' estimates for a 2.1 percent increase. It was the 13th straight month of sales gains.