Higher-than-expected retail sales have boosted hopes of a US economic recovery.

A host of retailers reported strong trading in September, as cooler weather fuelled demand for autumn merchandise.

Wal-Mart's same-store sales (from outlets open at least a year) jumped 6%, higher than its forecast of 3% to 5%. Discount rival Target also beat predictions with a 5.4% hike.

Elsewhere, sales rose 5.5% at Kohl's, 3.2% at Sears Roebuck, 3.2% at Federated Department Stores and 13% at Gap.

Overall, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi measure of same-store sales surged 5.9% year-on-year, the biggest leap since March 2002.

For the third quarter, the National Retail Federation estimates that sales jumped 5.8%. "The long-awaited bounce in economic activity has finally arrived," rejoiced chief economist Rosalind Wells.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff