Apparel retailers American Eagle Outfitters Inc and Talbots Inc both reported higher third-quarter earnings on Thursday boosted by what analysts said is each company's ability to appeal to its core customers and drive sales.Many major US retailers have found themselves faced with a slowing economy and more frugal spending habits from consumers over the past several months, and apparel retailers have tended to be the hardest hit as warm weather has reigned throughout most of the country."The slower pace of overall spending by the consumer has hurt a lot of the retail industry, and ultimately it seemed to come up on a lot of retailers faster than they had expected," said Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi economist Michael Niemira."Consequently some got stuck with more inventory than they wanted, and ultimately that created a situation where they were discounting more heavily, which tied into their earnings," Niemira said.Despite all this, however, youth-oriented apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters managed to post better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, with a net income of $29.2 million, or 61 cents a diluted share, compared to a profit of $24.3 million, or 52 cents a diluted share, a year ago.Wall Street analysts had been expecting the retailer to post a profit of 54 cents a share, according to research firm First Call/Thomson Financial.