It's been a tough few years for the retail industry, but store owners in every sector--from apparel to business centers to children's products--are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And the numbers back it up: Earlier this year, the Commerce Department reported that the second quarter kicked off slightly better than expected, with retail sales hitting $366.4 billion in April, a .4 percent uptick over the month before and an 8.8 percent improvement over the same time last year. Not exactly a national spending spree but still reason to be hopeful that the recovery is moving in the right direction.
If you're feeling optimistic about the retail world too, check out our list of the top retail franchises from Entrepreneur's annual Franchise 500® . The companies are arranged alphabetically by category, and you'll likely find whatever type of business you're interested in on our wide-ranging list.
This listing is not an endorsement of any particular franchise. Look at it rather as a first step in your research, which should also include reading Franchise Disclosure Documents, consulting a lawyer and an accountant, and talking to existing franchisees.