A shopper enters a Kohl's department store in Framingham, Mass.
A shopper enters a Kohl's department store in Framingham, Mass. - 
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BILL RADKE: There are hints of a thaw in the struggling retail industry this week. Department store chain Kohl's opened 21 new stores. JC Penney also announced plans to expand.

Marketplace's Amy Scott looked into it.

AMY SCOTT: The economy may be in recovery, but many retailers are still limping along.

Analyst Kelly Tackett with Kantar Retail says Kohl's is the exception.

KELLY TACKETT: While a lot of other department stores have really closed several stores over the past couple of years, Kohl's has been on a steady pace of expansion.

Analysts say Kohl's has bucked the trend by selling designers like Vera Wang at affordable prices and opening stores in so-called "power centers" away from the mall. JC Penney plans to open three new stores next year. Retail consultant Burt Flickinger says both chains are benefiting from a shift to thrift.

BURT FLICKINGER: We expect five years of frugality from shoppers, from 2010 to 2015.

Low-price Swedish retailer H&M would like to expand faster. But it said this week it will open fewer stores this year than planned. It's been stalled by a slowdown in shopping mall construction.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports