A welcome trio of factors — perkier job prospects, summer temperatures and more affordable prices — helped retail sales in June beat expectations.
Same-store sales at shops open at least a year — a measure that strips out the volatility of openings and closings — rose 4.1 percent last month from the same period a year earlier, according to Retail Metrics.
The surge is the largest since sales swelled 5.1 percent in January. Retailers had struggled through the spring as they dealt with storms and chilly temperatures and "an economic soft patch," said the group's president, Ken Perkins.
June results beat forecasts of a 3.7 percent boost and also outperformed the 3.8 percent increase recorded in May and the 0.3 percent upswing in June 2012, he said.
The cause, according to Perkins: "An improving labor market coupled with falling gas prices during the month, seasonably warmer temperatures that drove summer clearance, rising home prices and generally better macroeconomic conditions."
Stein Mart said sales were up 6.5 percent due to strength in linens, ladies' casual sportswear and women's boutique goods. Menswear and female special sizes were less impressive.
The retailer, which has 262 stores, said Florida and other gulf states drew high revenue.
A separate account of retail sales from Thomson Reuters also showed companies beating Wall Street forecasts. Predictions of a 3.8 percent sales increase when including drugstores and a 4.8 percent surge without them proved inaccurate.
Thomson Reuters calculated that the 11 retailers in its roundup enjoyed a 4.2 percent uptick with drugstores and a 5 percent rise without.