"We have seen the consumer come back to life," says Kathy Deck, the Director for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas.
The last few months are good news for retailers, like Lisa Sharp, the owner of Nightbird Books.
"2011 has been great for us--for the year we've been up 15% and then in 2012 so far we're up 21% from where we were in 2011," says Sharp.
But payments aren't necessarily in cold hard cash.
"That's how people are going shopping again, they're borrowing money, we're seeing revolving credit, credit cards increasing again," says Deck.
Because Kathy Deck, and Economist at the University of Arkansas says even though buying is up, salaries are not.
"We know the trap, that we can't in fact spend more than we make forever and ever," says Deck.
But all the spending, does indicate some level of confidence in the economy--an answered prayer for businesses
"It should be a really good year because I have cut back expenses and cut back expenses over the last 2 or 3 years and now that sales are back up we should have a nice profitable year which would be wonderful," says Deck.
But it's only the beginning of fixing the economy.
"The housing market is sort of the missing piece of this recovery right now until the housing market is strong, it is very difficult to have a strong and thriving economy," says Deck.
But with a few months of solid numbers, Deck says the housing market could restore not just consumer confidence--but businesses' confidence in the U.S. economy.