Same-store sales at Target were up 4.2 percent during the first four weeks of August compared to a year ago. That beat the 3.1 percent increase analysts had forecast.
CEO Greg Steinhafel says sales got stronger as the month wore on and the return to the classroom drew nearer.
The increased spending comes even as consumer surveys show Americans are apprehensive about the economy. But some parents -- like a Minnesota mother who spoke to CNBC -- say they saved their nickels for months preparing for back to school expenditures.