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Apparently higher gas prices and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday didn't stop consumers from shopping till they dropped in January. A composite of 18 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters posted a solid +5.8% increase in same-store sales for January, well above expectations of +3.5%.

Here are some of the standouts for January:

Kohl's Corp. (KSS - Analyst Report): +13.3%
Macy's Inc. (M - Analyst Report): +11.7%
Nordstrom Inc (JWN - Analyst Report): +11.4%
Stage Stores Inc. (SSI - Snapshot Report): +10.5%
Limited Brands Inc. : +9%
Gap Inc (GPS - Analyst Report): +8%

I think that at least some of this can be attributed to the wealth effect from higher stock and home prices. Especially the home prices part considering the painful 6 year slump in home values.

What do you think is behind this recent consumer strength? Chime in below.

Zacks Releases Their 7 Best Stocks for August, 2014

These 7 were hand-picked from the list of 220 Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buys with earnings estimate revisions that are sweeping upward. Their stock prices are expected to rise sooner than the others.

Today, this Special Report is available to new Zacks.com visitors free of charge.

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