Retail business showed signs of improvement in July, and the six-month-ahead sales outlook is optimistic, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in Washington, D.C. The trade organization's retail sector performance index (RSPI), shows the July demand outlook index (a six-month outlook for sales) reached 62.5 percent from 56.5 percent in June. The July current demand index (average of sales and traffic) jumped to 52.1 percent from 46.2 percent in June.

According to NRF, July's customer traffic (up 53.1 percent) and sales (54.7 percent) indexes were at the highest ratings since the survey began in September 2002. The RSPI, conducted with the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, is based on a scale of 0 percent to 100 percent, with 50 percent equaling normal.