Retailers, including Macy's and Limited, report strong January sales

NEW YORK - Major retailers including Macy's and Limited Brands are reporting strong sales in January as shoppers went back to the stores after the winter holidays to take advantage of clearance sales.

Twenty retailers reported on Thursday that revenue at stores opened at least a year — an indication of a store's health — rose an average of 5.1 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

That's above the mall trade group's 3 percent estimate and marks the highest reading since August 2012 when it rose 6 percent.

The worry, however, is whether shoppers, particularly budget-conscious consumers, will keep spending as they deal with rising gas prices and a payroll tax hike that took effect last month.