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Chain-Store Sales Not as Bad as Expected

Thursday, 7 Apr 2011 | 9:38 AM ET

Most retailers posting March same-store sales Thursday delivered results that were better than analysts' expectations, providing some reassurance that consumers are still spending despite the late Easter and unusually cold weather.

Woman shopping for a dress
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Woman shopping for a dress

"For the most part retailers are posting a little better than expected March performance," said Dana Telsey, CEO of Telsey Advisory Group.

The Thomson Reuters Same-Store Sales Index rose 1.7 percent in March, beating estimates, which called for a decrease of 0.7 percent.

The unusually chilly weather during March is another factor analysts pointed to for impacting retail sales.

"The fact that we are having a stronger than expected March in spite of the weather is a good sign," said Telsey.

Analysts are also expecting same-store sales to be hurt with Easter arriving later (April 24), compared to April 4 last year.

Telsey said with the Easter calendar shift more of the sales will occur in April.

Among the strongest performances was Limited Brands said same-store sales rose 14 percent, while analysts were only expecting 1.5 percent increase.

Costco beat analysts' estimates with a 7 percent rise in same-store sales for March, excluding sales from gasoline prices and strong foreign currencies. Analysts were expecting a 5.5 percent increase.

The warehouse club company said the Easter calendar shift positively impacted same-store sales for March. Costco is closed on Easter.

Telsey on Retail
Dana Telsey, Telsey Advisory group, discusses winners and losers in the retail sector. So far, she says the discounters are doing very well.

Meanwhile, Target posted a drop of 5.5 percent, compared to analysts' forecasts of a decrease of 6.4 percent.

Gap posted a decrease of 10 percent, against estimates of a drop of 7 percent.

On Wednesday, Hot Topic reported a decline in same-store sales. The teen retailer delivered a 5 percent drop in March, compared to analysts' forecast of a decrease of 6.2 percent.

Zumiez reported same-store sales climbed 8.9 percent, beating analysts' expectations of 4.1 percent.

March 2011 Same-Store Sales

Retailers March 2011 Estimates March 2011 Actuals
Costco 5.5% 7%
BJ's Wholesale 0.5% 1.3%
Target (6.4%) (5.5%)
JC Penney (3.4%) (0.3%)
Kohl's Department Store (7.9%) (6.5%)
JW Nordstrom 0.75 5.1%
Saks Department Store 0.8% 11.1%
Stage Stores (6.5%) (5.3%)
Macy's (2.0%) 0.9%
Gap (7%) (10%)
TJX (2.0%) (1%)
Limited 1.5% 14%
Ross Stores (1.4%) (1%)
Stein Mart (1.5%) (3.9%)
Hot Topic (6.2%) (5%)
Wet Seal (1.7%) 4.7%
The Buckle (0.5%) 8.4%
Zumiez 4.1% 8.9%
Walgreen (1%) 1.6%
Rite Aid -- (1.8%)
Source: Thomson Reuters; Figures in parenthesis are losses.
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