But even with the one day of euphoria in some of the worst performing retail names, many major brick-and-mortar chains are still extremely depressed, having seen their market cap dissolve this year as shoppers move online. The XRT, the SPDR S&P Retail ETF, closed up 2.3 percent, its best day since Nov. 22.
Target stock closed up 4.8 percent to $53.31 per share, after it said it expects earnings above the high end of its previous forecast range, which was 95 cents to $1.15 per share. Target said it saw broad-based sales improvement in the second quarter, raising hopes that a range of other chain stores are also experiencing a rebound.
Even with the gain, Target's stock is still down 27 percent this year.
Wal-Mart, which rivals Target in many categories, was up just 1.5 percent. But unlike other retailers, its stock has been higher for the year, up about 8 percent. Wal-Mart has been benefiting from its acquisition of Jet.com, giving it more ability to compete with Amazon.
Amazon, which has benefited at the expense of other retailers, saw a 0.7 percent decline in its stock Thursday but is up 33 percent year to date. Retail shares, under pressure all year, took another whacking after Amazon announced it was buying the Whole Foods Markets grocery chain last month.
Kroger, a grocery chain, rose just 0.5 percent in the big retail rally Thursday. Its stock is down 33 percent year to date.