Retail sector exchange traded funds have been one of the better performing areas this year so investors will be focused on retail sales data later this week for continued strength in the sector.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca: XRT) has gained 31.0% year-to-date, Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEArca: XLY) rose 27.4% and Market Vectors Retail ETF (NYSEArca: RTH) increased 25.9%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index is up 20.1% so far this year. [Consumer ETFs: Staples vs. Discretionary]

Economists anticipate an average 0.3% increase in retail sales for July after a 0.4% rise June and a 0.5% advance May, Bloomberg reports. The June and May numbers were bolstered by rising gasoline prices and stronger auto sales.

Auto producers are experiencing their best year since 2007 as U.S. auto sales spiked to 15.8 million. [Auto ETF Shifts Up on Strong Consumer Car Demand]

“We’re at the beginning of a broad-based recovery for the economy in auto retail,” Michael Jackson, chairman and chief executive officer of AutoNation Inc., said in the Bloomberg article. “As we look at the rest of 2013, we believe that the improvement in new vehicle sales will continue.”

Consumers are also benefiting from the Fed’s loose monetary policies, which have depressed borrowing costs.

Retail sales for July will be released Tuesday. The retail sales reading measures the total receipts at stores that sell merchandise and related services, covering durables and nondurables portions of consumer spending. U.S. consumption accounts for about two-thirds of the country’s gross domestic product.

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