Retailers reported mixed results for April, as same-store sales were impacted by this year's earlier Easter, which pulled a chunk of business into March.


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Retailers eke out sales gain in April

May 7th, 2010

NEW YORK – Retailers reported mixed results for April, as same-store sales were impacted by this year's earlier Easter, which pulled a chunk of business into March.

April same-store sales increased 1.2%, down from a 9.2% gain in March, according to Kantar Retail, which tracks monthly sales results from a sample of about 30 retail chains.

Still, the market researcher said Thursday that the April uptick marked a big improvement from the 2.3% decline a year earlier (excluding Walmart). Including Walmart, April 2009 same-store sales were up 0.9%.

For the March/April seasonal selling period, same-store sales rose 5.7%, Kantar Retail reported.

Most of the chain reporting April retail sales results met or exceeded expectations as shoppers continue to step up their spending plans, the researcher said.

"More than one-third of the retailers reporting posted gains in April on top of March's gains," Kantar Retail senior economist Frank Badillo stated. "These results provide some signs of the pickup in spending that shoppers are sustaining despite the Easter calendar shift."

The results were led by stronger-than-average results among the food, drug and mass retailers, primarily Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ’s Warehouse Club Inc. Apparel and accessory stores were flat overall, while department stores were down slightly, according to Kantar Retail.

Among key chains, Target saw its April same-store sales fall 5.9%, compared with a 0.3% rise a year earlier. The discounter said March/April same-store revenue was up 3% this year.

Warehouse club chains Costco and BJ's reported robust results. Costco said its comparable-club sales for April were up 6% (3% excluding fuel business) in the United States and 11% (10% excluding fuel) overall. At BJ's, comparable-club sales in April rose 4.6% (3.8% excluding fuel).

Discount general merchandise chain Fred's Inc. posted a 0.6% uptick in April same-store sales, down from a 5% increase a year ago. Broadline retailer Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc., which caters to smaller communities, saw a 2.7% same-store sales decline in April.

Also on the upside in April was closeout chain Big Lots Inc., which reported a 6% same-store sales gain. The company noted that the increase was at the high end of its comparable-store forecast.

 

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