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[Editor's Note: Ian Ritter is taking a much-deserved vacation over the next week, and GlobeSt.com retail reporter Debra Hazel is filling in for him on Counter Culture. Please be nice.]Among the plethora of quarterly reports and announcements yesterday came some interesting positive news on the apparel front. Jos. A. Bank said it would accelerate its store expansion next year, opening 30 to 40 stores, more than twice the 10 to 15 opening this year. Eventually, it plans to open at least another 130 more units.Women’s apparel also boasted some good news – Chico’s, which has been struggling for what seems like forever, posted positive comps for both its divisions this quarter. The Chico’s/Soma comps rose 0.4% (okay, that’s close, but still a positive), and White House/Black Market comp sales rose 3.7%.The trend isn’t universal – Casual Male’s comps declined 13.9% this quarter, though its profit nearly doubled due to careful cost controls. Stage Stores’ comps dropped 10.7%, attributed largely to reduced merchandise clearance.Consumer confidence has risen, the Conference Board says, and it seems that affluent adults, the target market for both Jos. A. Bank and Chico’s, may be tiring of shopping their closets. Are these two vertically integrated chains an exception? Or is the apparel shopper starting to re-enter the market, albeit cautiously?

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