This column was originally published on RealMoney on April 20 at 1:09 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.

This is the quiet season for stocks in the retail sector. The holidays are more than eight months away, and shoppers have already picked up their quota of spring fashions and home-improvement ideas.

However, the broad sector is still generating its share of big winners and losers.

Admittedly, I'm not much of a shopper. I'd rather get my teeth drilled then spend any time at the shopping mall.

But I love looking at retail charts to see what's hot and what's not in the world of fashion, electronics and home improvement, so here goes.

Maybe it's a sign of the times. The strongest retail stock in my database is

Ezcorp

(EZPW) - Get Report

, one of the largest pawnshop and short-term loan companies in the U.S.

It gapped up to an all-time high this week after reporting very strong earnings. This one has been moving higher since it broke above key resistance at $21 back in March.

Jo-Ann Stores

( JAS) fell out of bed last year and is now trading near its four-year low. It looks like the craft and fabric provider is being hurt by two adverse trends: People don't spend as much time sewing, knitting and enjoying hands-on hobbies, and shoppers are headed to competitors such as

Michaels Stores

(MIK) - Get Report

that have better locations and greater selection.

Dress Barn

( DBRN) is one of my favorite retail plays and a current pick in my newsletter,

The Daily Swing Trade

. This women's apparel chain has pushed higher in a sustained uptrend for three years. It has exhibited few of the ups and downs that have afflicted most members of the retail sector. Unfortunately the stock is extended, and I don't see safe entry points at this time.

Stein Mart

(SMRT) - Get Report

was a top performer for years, but not anymore. The apparel operation hit an all-time high of $26.47 in May 2005 and has been selling off in a persistent decline since. This is a dangerous looking chart and a stock that should be avoided at all costs.

Children's Place

(PLCE) - Get Report

has certainly had its share of ups and owns over the last five years. But these days, it's all good news for the company that runs the Disney Store and other child-centric operations. The stock just rallied above its 1999 high and is an excellent candidate for a split announcement sometime in the next three months.

Despite my criticism of naked shorting, I don't think

Overstock

(OSTK) - Get Report

would be trading much higher if it weren't a favorite target for this illegal practice. The stock has been in a nasty downtrend for the last 16 months. The recent uptick might represent the start of a new uptrend, but it's way too early to tell what's in store for this Net laggard.

There's little accounting for good taste, especially with teenage girls. Perhaps that's why trinket seller

Claire's Stores

( CLE) broke out to an all-time high late last year, and just kept on going. The stock has gained more than 25% since the breakout -- quite a feat in a relatively tough environment for retailers. The chart shows nothing to suggest the uptrend is nearing its end.

Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Ezcorp and Jo-Ann Stores to be small-cap stocks. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.

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Alan Farley is a professional trader and author of

The Master Swing Trader

. Farley also runs a Web site called HardRightEdge.com, an online resource for trading education, technical analysis and short-term investment strategies. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Farley appreciates your feedback;

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