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Most retailers reported their August same-store sales Thursday. Collectively the month, during which retailers on average beat analyst estimates by 1.0%, was a welcome change from July, when retailers missed forecasts by an average of 1.5% and almost 75% of retailers posted below-estimate sales gains. On average, same-store sales were up 2.4% from the year ago period, while total sales climbed 6.2% year-over-year. Saks and Zumiez nearly doubled analyst estimates, the latter posting an impressive 39.7% total sales gain. Other upside notables included Pacific Sunwear (9.6% vs. 1.8%) and Wal-Mart's surprising 3.0% same-store sales jump; analysts expected a milder 1.5%. Decliners included Chico's FAS and Gottschalks. Much-watched Costco posted a 2.0% same-store sales gain, well below the 5.6% analysts forecasted.

August's numbers were bolstered by a later-than-ususal back-to-school season that saw some July sales bumped into August, calling into question whether retailers can sustain August gains into the fall months. Most economists agree tighter credit and falling housing prices are likely to make a mark on consumer spending. "The middle-market consumer can still afford to shop, but there still are fears stemming from the mortgage market," said one analyst.

In the following table, arrows indicate whether a retailer beat (up), missed (down) or was in line with analyst expectations. Analyst estimates are based on Reuters and Thomson surveys.

Sources: Reuters, Dow Jones I, II,

Commentary: July Same-Store Sales RoundupJune Same-Store Sales RoundupMay Same-Store Sales RoundupApril Same-Store Sales Roundup

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Source: August Same-Store Sales Roundup