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Early Easter impacts seasonal merch comps

New York - Comps were up 3.5% in the fourth week of March following a 2.6% gain the prior week, according to the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index.

Same-store sales for the week ended March 30 rose 4.3% in the discount channel and 2.1% in the department store sector.

"Easter related purchases drove demand for boys and girls apparel, footwear and Easter seasonal goods," noted Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "In some regions, cooler weather shifted shopper's attention away from apparel and seasonal merchandise."

She said retailers usually prefer a later Easter holiday since warmer temperatures drive a higher demand for spring merchandise. This year's Easter fell two weeks earlier than last year.

"Some retailers were disappointed that the earlier pre-Easter momentum had not been sustained through the holiday weekend itself," Levis continued. "Most retailers suggest smoothing the Easter distortion by simply averaging March and April performance."
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