With the early start of spring and Easter behind us, retail sales slowed in April, with many large U.S. retailers falling short of analysts' estimates.
The Thomson Reuters same-store sales index showed a rise of 0.8 percent for April sales at stores open at least a year, short of analysts' estimates for an increase of 1.5 percent. Sales in March had risen 4.3 percent.
Retailers were up against tough comparisons last year, when retail sales jumped 9.0 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. Last year, April benefited from Easter, which fell in late April.
Sales of warm-weather merchandise also may have been pulled forward into March as temperatures in during the month were much warmer than usual.
Target , Costco , Macy's and Gap are among those posting disappointing same-store sales for the month.
Some analysts have suggested it will be better to look at combined sales for March and April to get a true idea of how the consumer is faring. For example, Target said same-store sales rose 1.1 percent in April, missing estimates, but the retailer said it expects its same-store sales growth for the quarter will be the highest in more than six years.
Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said the company received an early boost from Easter and warm-than-usual weather, and the "underlying sales trend remains quite healthy."
Another positive sign came from Gap . Despite the company's weaker-than-expected sales this month, it estimated quarterly earnings above analysts' expectations.
Gap said total first-quarter sales rose about 6 percent to $3.49 billion, topping the analysts' $3.44 billion projection, and it estimated earnings at 44 cents to 46 cents a share, while analysts expected 40 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.
This suggests the early buying binge was helpful to retailers as they were able to sell more items at full price and rein in discounts later in the quarter.