Off-price: Ross Stores and TJX beat, continuing to take share from JC Penney
General Merchandisers: Target and Costco beat
Apparel: Gap up 9 percent, well above the 5.5 percent expected, with Old Navy up 12 percent, Buckle up 4.5 percent
Nordstrom up 21 percent, double the estimates (that includes the Anniversary Sale in July).
It was strange. Nobody lowered guidance. Nobody complained about the weather. Nobody put on a dour face and said that consumers were being "cautious." Nobody complained that promotional activity was excessive. (Read more: Back-to-School Has Been ‘Terrific’: Tanger CEO)
First, Hurricane Irene barreled up the East Coast at the end of August last year, so that likely supressed sales and helped the comps.
But the most important factor was likely that retailers got it right. The "fashion cycle" really was strong. The clothes were cool. Or hot. Bright, bold colors really did sell.
I know. Seems crazy to me too. But hey, it seems to have worked. (Read more: CNBC's Consumer Nation blog)
—By CNBC’s Bob Pisani
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