Good weather and sales promotion in stores drove consumers into malls in May as the summer shopping season began.
Major chain stores posted a 4.3% sales increase in May compared with the same month a year earlier in figures released Thursday, beating analysts' expectations of a 3.9% rise, according to Thomson Reuters' tally of nine big retailers. Stripping out the effect of drug stores, last month's retail sales were up 4.4%.
Shoppers who stayed home during long bouts of cold weather this past winter have returned to stores to spruce up their wardrobes, analysts said. Thomson Reuters noted that mall traffic improved during the long Memorial Day weekend.