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Key retailers get Easter basket full of positive comps in April

New York - Despite regional storms that hit much harder than the usual seasonal showers, April brought sunny comp results for key retailers as all 13 on HTT's list reported positive same store sales.

And they have the Easter Bunny to thank for it. This year, Easter Sunday landed three weeks later than it had in 2010, causing holiday-related sales to shift from March to April.

Framingham, Mass.-based TJMaxx's April consolidated comparable store sales increase of 5%, exceeded expectations, reflecting the timing of a later Easter this year than last, noted Carol Meyrowitz, ceo.

Even so, the off-price chain was among the month's key retailers reporting the lowest comp gain.

"It's worth noting that these results were achieved despite unfavorable weather in many U.S. and Canadian regions," Meyrowitz added. "We are particularly pleased that April comp sales at The Marmaxx Group far exceeded our expectations. Further, the tone of business was strong toward the end of the month which bodes well as we enter the second quarter."

Double-digit comp increases were enjoyed by five retailers on the list - Target Corp. with 13%, Dillard's with 11%, Macy's with 10.8%, Kohl's with 10.2%, and Ross Stores with 10.0%.

Memphis, Tenn.-based Fred's posted the lowest gain at 1.8% and blamed mostly harsh weather conditions with hindering potentially better results.

"It's difficult to determine the sales and economic impact of the storms, but as reported, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas - the heart of our chain - were devastated during the last 10 days of the month," said Bruce Efird, Fred's ceo. "The combination of the storms, along with rising food and gas prices, is becoming a real challenge for our customers. As a result, even though customer traffic met expectations, average ticket, as one might expect, was down as historically key departments such as lawn and garden, and soft lines were below plan."

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