NEW YORK -- June sales heated up for stores.
Retailers are reporting their strongest sales gains since January, as shoppers, enticed by warm weather and an improving economy, took advantage of summer discounts.
The data, released Thursday, offers encouraging signs for the back-to-school season, which gets under way later this month.
Revenue at stores opened at least a year - an industry measure of a store's health - rose 3.9 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago, according to a preliminary tally of 12 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The mall trade group had expected an increase of 3 to 3.5 percent. Revenue rose 3.4 percent in May.
Among the retailers reporting stronger-than-expected sales gains are Costco Corp., Fred's Inc. and Stein Mart Inc.