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Retail briefs

Easter Shift Means Tough April

The early Easter holiday which bolstered sales in March had the opposite effect on April, according to results of the April NRF Retail Executive Opinion Survey, with the Retail Sector Performance Index dropping 7.9 points from March and 8.8 points from last April to a reading of 50.5.

“Given the Easter shift to March, retailers were hard-pressed to compete with last April's strong gains,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin.

The Demand Outlook, a six-months-ahead sales outlook, dropped 8.7 points in April to 52.8.

Great Indoors Store Closing

The Great Indoors store in Deerfield, Ill., will close by July 31.

Sears Holdings operates 17 The Great Indoors specialty stores that focus on redecorating and renovating. The Deerfield unit will close because of poor sales, according to a Sears spokesperson. There are no plans to close any of the other units in the chain.

Federated Ups First Quarter Guidance

Federated Department Stores Inc. reported sales of $3.61 billion for the 13-week first quarter and year to date, up 2.5 percent from total sales of $3.57 billion last year, causing the company to up its first quarter guidance. The company's same-store sales for the period were up 2.6 percent.

Terry Lundgren, Federated chairman, president and CEO, said, “ … we now expect earnings for the first quarter of 2005 to be in the range of 65 to 70 cents a share. This compares to 52 cents a share in the same period last year, and our prior first-quarter 2005 guidance of 40 to 45 cents a share.”

Lundgren added that he expects same-store sales to increase by approximately 1 percent in the second quarter, reiterating guidance of 80 to 85 cents a share.

Penney More Bullish on First Quarter

Strength in April comp-store sales resulted in J.C. Penney Company, Inc. increasing its earnings-per-share estimate for the first quarter.

The company now expects earnings of approximately 61 cents per share against previous estimates of between 48 to 53 cents per share. Penney expects second quarter earnings to come in between 25 and 30 cents, with full-year numbers between $2.94 and $3.06 per share.

For April, Penney had a comp-store increase of 3.6 percent. Total sales were up 4.7 percent.

Court OKs Garden Ridge Reorg Plan

The Delaware Bankruptcy Court last week confirmed Garden Ridge's plan of reorganization.

The plan provides for the distribution of preferred stock to general unsecured creditors and cash distributions to convenience creditors and qualified reclamation creditors. The plan is based on a $25 million equity infusion from Three Cities Research and assumes $80 million in exit financing.

“We expect the effective date of the plan to be on or about May 10,” said Don Martin, chief restructuring officer of Garden Ridge.

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