The S&P Retail ETF (XRT) gained 2.03 percent, while shares of L Brands climbed 11.02 percent and Fred's stock skyrocketed 13.86 percent. Other retailers including Zumiez, and Rent-A-Center also saw their stock rise.
L Brands said same-store sales fell 10 percent in March, more than a StreetAccount estimate of an 8.9 percent decline. L Brands added, however, its sales were negatively affected by 2 to 3 points by the late coming of Easter this year.
Victoria's Secret has been trying to adjust its business model of late by discontinuing swimwear and most of its apparel merchandise and by eliminating print catalogs.
Fred's, meanwhile, reported a fourth-quarter loss on Thursday that was smaller than analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected. The retailer had its best day in December, when shares climbed more
Thursday's performance marks a minor turnaround for retail stocks, in what's been a difficult 12 months for the sector. The S&P Retail ETF has lost more than 8 percent from one year ago and is down nearly 6 percent year to date.
— CNBC's Gina Francolla contributed to this report.