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Retail sales are still not back to where they were, but retailers and the sector’s ETFs are seeing signs of easing, much to the relief of many. But will it continue? Retail sales overall were up 1.2% from one year earlier, however, in general the sentiment toward retail is more of a wait-and-see approach. Some blame the Easter holiday, mixed with warm weather, for the spike in sales, reports Jack Healy for The New York Times.

There are inklings of a confident and optimistic consumer, however, without Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), retail sales would still be in the red. In fact, many value retailers seem to be experiencing the benefits of a down economy as consumers look for ways to entertain themselves at home.

The nation’s retailers are getting hip to this and are embracing the “cost-conscious” consumer, says Ylan Q. Mui for The Wall Street Journal. Starbucks has dropped prices, Pottery Barn has a sofa below $1,000, and many retailers are tossing out words such as “value” and “savings” like they’re candy.

  • Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLP): down 5.1% year-to-date

Source: Why Value Still Rules with Retail ETFs