By Kevin Grewal, editorial director at www.SmartStops.net

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- With back-to-school shopping in full swing and consumers loosening their grip around their wallets, is the retail sector on the mend or are there still tough times to come?

Several economists have said the recession is ending and the economy is recovering. They say unemployment numbers are starting to ease, there are signs that the housing markets are turning around, and GDP, of which consumer spending constitutes a major chunk, is improving.

It appears shoppers are ready to spend.

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

continues to sell loads of its sleek iPhones, the auto industry is seeing a jump in sales, driven primarily by the federal government's popular "Cash For Clunkers" program that ran out of funds on the first round of funding, and Facebook managed to sell $42 million in virtual gifts for consumers to send to friends.

There is a common theme in the spending: consumers penny pinching, trying to find a good deal. That's evident in the jump in the stock price of discount on-line travel broker

Expedia

(EXPE) - Get Report

, whose value has more than doubled from a March low of $6.39 to close at $22.77 on Monday. Retailer

JC Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

has gained 134% since a March close of $14.18 to close at $33.21 on Monday.

Only time will tell whether the sector has healed. According to tracking firm comScore, online sales, which many consider to be a cheaper method of shopping than actually visiting stores, excluding automobiles, auctions and corporate purchases declined 1% in the second quarter of 2009 when compared with last year.

Despite this report, on-line giant

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

has more than doubled from its low of $10.27 in March to close at $22.49 on Monday and

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

has gained 74% since a January low of $48.44 to close at 84.44 on Monday.

It is safe to say that the sector is an upward trend. However, when investing in these previously mentioned equities, one must keep in mind the risks involved and include an exit strategy which will help preserve returns and mitigate these risks.

According to the latest data from www.SmartStops.net, the upward trend of these equities will be in trouble at the following price levels: EXPE at $20.18; JCP at $30.32; EBAY at $20.50; AMZN at $ 79.08. These price levels change on a daily basis as the markets fluctuate and updated data can be found at www.SmartStops.net

-- Written by Kevin Grewal in Laguna Niguel