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A slow start, but April comps flowered

New York - Despite unseasonably cold weather and the delay of brighter springtime temperatures, most major retailers pulled off nice comp gains in April.
This is the first monthly summary that does not include Alco stores. Like several other retailers - including Macy's, JCPenney, Target and Bon-Ton - Alco is no longer reporting monthly sales.

Here's a summary of retailers' comp performances in April:

  • Costco Wholesale Corp.: +6.0% for the U.S., 6.0% for the international division, and 6.0% for the total company, excluding negative impacts from changes in gasoline prices and foreign exchange rates.
  • Fred's Inc.: +1.2%. Bruce A. Efird, ceo, said the performance came at the high end of the company's expectations and stemmed from its general merchandise departments.
    "During the month, we also experienced an increase in customer traffic and made good progress with our plan to improve our sales mix, with a greater proportion coming from higher margin product departments," he added. "These accomplishments keep us on track to achieve our earnings projections for the first quarter."
  • Ross Stores Inc.: +7.0%. Encouraged by the above-plan results, Ross has updated its guidance. The company said it now estimates earnings per share for the first quarter, ended May 4, to be $1.06 to $1.07, compared to initial guidance of $1.00 to $1.04.
  • Stein Mart: +8.0%. Linens as well as ladies' career sportswear and ladies' casual sportswear posted the strongest sales for the month; and geographically, sales increased in every state except for Texas, which was impacted by inclement weather.
  • TJX Companies: +8.0%. At the high end of expectations, comps were driven by customer traffic in all divisions, noted ceo Carol Meyrowitz, "as consumers responded to our extremely fresh selections of branded spring apparel."
    With strong sales and margins, she continued, TJX is "further narrowing" its first-quarter earnings per share expected range to 61 to 62 cents - representing "a very solid increase over last year's first quarter, which had the highest EPS growth of that year," she added.

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