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April sales to bring May profits?

NEW YORK — Getting the new spring season off to a promising start, retail sales turned in a sturdy performance during the first week of April, and in an uncommon change of pace actually surpassed expectations, with department stores, chains and discounters all exceeding their targets for the week.

The Redbook Retail Sales Average, which tracks same-store performance for retailers across the country, registered a gain of 3.1 percent for the week, easily beating a target of 2.7 percent.

The performance put the first week of April up 3.1 percent over April 2000, and 1.4 percent ahead of March, besting a target of 1.0 percent.

"The first week of April was satisfactory, and most retailers were running at or somewhat better than plan and reporting that Friday was the best shopping day," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Retailers benefited from year-over-year comparisons as an earlier Easter caused more sales volume in the week."

Levis added, "Warmer weather helped the seasonal apparel business, especially women's apparel and footwear. Basic food, consumables and hard lines also did well. Stores also reported increased activity in home related goods from furniture and appliances to lawn & garden tools as buyers geared up for spring home-improvement programs. Retailers continue to have a favorable view of consumer liquidity and confidence."

Redbook Retail Sales Average First Week of April

Week Ended 4/14 4/21 4/28 5/5 month target
Broadline* 0.3 0.3 0.1
Discounters 4.4 4.4 3.9
Redbook Average 3.1 3.1 2.7

*Broadline retailers, including department stores and chains.

Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.

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