September 04, 2014

Back-to-school shoppers helped propel an August same-store sales gain of 5.2 percent at U.S. chain stores, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

"With the back-to-school shopping season coming to a close, sales posted a very strong gain, with apparel stores closing out the month at their highest year-over-year gain in four months. It's a great indicator that consumers are ready and willing to shop as the economy continues to improve," said Jesse Tron, spokesman for ICSC. "In fact, our back-to-school survey showed that on average, consumers are spending more this season, at $325, on school items than last year when they spent $284," he added.

Wholesale clubs, dollar stores and apparel sellers all tracked strong sales for the last week of the month. Teen chains performed especially well thanks to discounts and more compelling fashions, says Adrienne Tennant, a retail analyst at Janney. "Promotions have been compelling and aggressive, both in-store and online, throughout the month of August, which helped drive traffic," she wrote in a note to investors.

Some retailers will also benefit from a second wave of back-to-school activity after Labor Day, Tennant added.

For the month of September, ICSC is forecasting that retail sales will continue to grow and post a healthy gain of between 4 and 5 percent.