It seems a bit of a case of "same story, different day." Neiman Marcus Group (NYSE:NMG.A) joins the many upscale department store retailers that reported much better profits than they could muster this time last year. It's a little hard, maybe, to feel too excited after so many of its peers reported similar quarters, though it may come to some as a relief that the retailer isn't lagging its rivals.

The department store retailer reported third-quarter earnings that came in 61% higher, with net income of $69 million, or $1.40 per diluted share. Overall sales were 21.4% higher at $878 million. Same-store sales were impressive, as they were also higher by 21%.

We already know that Federated Department Stores (NYSE:FD), which runs Bloomingdale's, among others, reported a perfectly decent quarter as compared to rival May (NYSE:MAY). Meanwhile, going even higher-end, Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) didn't nod off and Saks (NYSE:SKS) flashed its appeal.

Like many of its predecessors, Neiman said that the appeal of full-priced merchandise -- translating into less of a need for markdowns -- helped to spur the profitability. So did the company's careful attention to inventory management.

This past winter and spring have provided the perfect setup for the luxury retailers. The economy was looking better, the rate of layoffs seemed to be slowing, and there was the indication that new jobs were on the horizon. Last but definitely not least, there were lots of pent-up consumers looking for an excuse to treat themselves to something special.

It will be interesting to see if those trends continue during the rest of this year, given a few trends that are upsetting to consumers. It's hard to discount the high price of gas as a reason that people may stop their spending sprees. Other reasons for anxiety include the threats of rising dairy prices, inflation, and terrorist attacks; it makes one wonder if conspicuous consumption might become unfashionable again.

For the time being, though, luxury retailers are reaping the benefit of a cheerier shopper. However, how cheery should the investor be for Neiman right now? The stock is currently trading at 13 times forward earnings. In comparison to those of some of the other high-end retailers, that P/E ratio might make an investor wonder if Neiman stock is worth a closer look.

Does Neiman's high-end clothing give you an inferiority complex? Are you constantly agonizing over what the heck to wear? We've got just the ticket -- the What to Wear discussion board.

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