(Retail sales article updated with ICSC data.)

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Retailers got a big surprise today as

17 of the 28 companies tracked by TheStreet reported same-store sales numbers that beat expectations

.

And even more important, several upped their fourth-quarter outlook and provided positive commentary on the coming spring.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, overall January sales grew 3%, better than the 1% the firm forecast.

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

was one of the biggest surprises, posting an 8% jump in January sales, versus the 8.4% decline analysts expected.

But investors shouldn't necessarily go leaping headfirst into the stock, as much of this gain came from $22 million in a gift card promotion that was shifted from November and December into January.

Rival

Aeropostale

(ARO)

said sales were up 6%, in-line with expectations.

As a result, Aeropostale now expects fourth-quarter earnings between $1.41 and $1.42 a share, versus its previously issued guidance of $1.33 to $1.34 a share.

American Eagle Outfitter

(AEO) - Get Report

boosted its fourth-quarter guidance as well, after its 10% spike in same-store sales. Analysts were calling for a 5.7% incline.

The company now predicts fourth-quarter earnings of between 32 cents and 33 cents, ahead of its earlier view of 30 cents to 32 cents a share.

Children's Place

(PLCE) - Get Report

reported a 12% surge, blasting past forecasts of a 1.6% increase.

The children's apparel retailer expects fourth-quarter earnings between 99 cents and $1.04 a share, better than the 81 cents analysts are predicting.

But the company announced that it will not report same-store sales going forward.

Off-pricer

TJX

(TJX) - Get Report

reported a 12% spike in its sales, drastically higher than the 7.8% advance expected, while

Limited Brands

(LTD)

saw a 6% gain, versus analysts' outlook of a 0.5% increase.

In the department store sector,

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

and

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

both lifted their guidance after easily topping forecasts.

Macy's raised its fourth-quarter target to $1.35 to $1.37 a share, from $1.14 to $1.18 a share it previously expected.

Macy's saw its January comparable sales grow 3.4% compared with the flat expectations from analysts. It should be noted, however, that unlike most other retailers, Macy's includes online sales in its report, which were up 26.6%.

Kohl's now expects fourth-quarter earnings in the range of $1.36 to $1.37 a share, better than its previous estimate of between $1.28 and $1.30 a share.

The value-priced department store reported a 6.5% gain in January sales compared with the 2.8% uptick Wall Street predicted.

There were, however, several same-store sales misses, the most notable coming from

Buckle

(BKE) - Get Report

,

Walgreen

(WAG)

and

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

.

Buckle, a denim company based in Kearney, Nebraska, posted a surprise 1.2% decline during the month. Analysts were looking for a 4.1% gain.

Target saw just a 0.5% incline, compared with the 1.4% increase predicted.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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