Apparently, Saks (NYSE:SKS) was on the short list of retailers that picky consumers visited over the last several months, with the company reporting a 50% increase in its first-quarter earnings today. The retailer seems to have benefited from that taste of luxury many shoppers crave since winter's stirring of renewed consumer confidence.

The retailer, which also runs shopping venues like Carson Pirie Scott, Parisian, and Proffitt's, posted first-quarter net income of $22 million, or $0.15 per share; the numbers including $0.02 in charges related to asset write-offs. First-quarter sales rose 11.5% to $1.54 billion.

Same-store sales, a good litmus test for how fashionable a retailer might be with its customers, increased 10.2% overall, with a particularly strong same-store sales gain of 15.3% from its Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises segment, which consists of its most obvious storefronts, Saks Fifth Avenue and the Saks Off 5th outlets.

When a retailer's goods have enough appeal, shoppers are compelled to buy the goods outright as opposed to waiting for the redlined price cuts. Saks said that part of its earnings increase came about because it could keep a lid on markdowns. The retailer also said that luxury items like jewelry, leather goods, and cosmetics drove sales.

Shopping for stocks in the retail industry has been a mixed bag lately. Several days ago, Foolish colleague Seth Jayson took a look at Federated Department Stores (NYSE:FD), which has also enjoyed a heady phase. However, May Department Stores (NYSE:MAY) can't say the same thing, having reported less-than-exciting numbers.

Meanwhile, consumers are proving that given the right merchandise at the right price, they are willing to buy outright -- a mind-set that's been inherent in some specialty retailers' recent reports. Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN) has been able to successfully pare down markdowns and promotions due to products and pricing that shoppers find compelling. Meanwhile, Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD) (and its customers) seem to be having a tough time adjusting to a less promotional environment in its Limited stores.

Here at the Fool, a recent examination of Saks portrayed a stock that had had a strong run, but didn't provide a comfortable entry point for new investors. Since that time, the stock price has fallen by 21%, but it still sports a forward P/E of 18. Though the stock certainly has a more compelling ring now than it had in March, there's likely better bargain hunting to be done elsewhere in retail.

Saks paid a handsome onetime dividend recently. Do you want to bring more income to your stock portfolio? Check out Mathew Emmert's picks for income and value, which come each month via Motley Fool Income Investor. Sign up for a free trial here.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.