| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 8 Spring was in full swing for
some U.S. retailers, with shoppers spending again in April after
the weather warmed up.
A number of large U.S. retailers, including Costco Wholesale
Corp and Victoria's Secret parent L Brands Inc,
reported April comparable sales above expectations, helped in
part by a later Easter that pushed sales from March, and the end
of a harsh winter that had kept many shoppers at home.
A group of nine retailers - which does not include giants
like Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp and Best
Buy Co - reported a 5.6 percent increase in April
comparable sales, better than the 4.1 percent rise analysts
expected, according to Thomson Reuters' same-store sales index.
"The April performance was strong and suggested that pent-up
demand helped," said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the
International Council of Shopping Centers.
Clothing stores Gap Inc and American Apparel Inc
will report sales results after U.S. markets close.
There were hopeful signs for retailers after months of heavy
discounting that slammed sales and profit margins in winter.
L Brands, whose shares rose 4.5 percent, raised its profit
forecast and said it had been able to scale back promotions. Its
comparable sales rose 8 percent.
Costco reported a 5 percent increase, better than the 3.2
percent analysts projected, and its shares rose 2 percent.
Drugstore operators Walgreen Co and Rite Aid Corp
reported better than expected sales, helped by gains in
The S&P Retail Index rose 0.7 percent.
Despite the strong showing, some analysts said there was
still reason for caution.
"You can't put too much credence into these numbers when you
have a big bounce from delayed purchases," said Craig Johnson,
president of consulting firm Customer Growth Partners.
Johnson warned against reading too much into the improving
unemployment numbers, given the slow growth in low-wage jobs and
the rise in the number of people dropping out of the workforce.
Several other retailers reported large jumps in April
results, reflecting shoppers' continuing appetite for bargains.
Discount apparel retail Stein Mart Inc said
comparable sales rose 8.9 percent, while rival Cato Corp
reported an 18 percent jump and raised its profit
Youth retailers The Buckle Inc and Zumiez Inc
also reported better than expected April sales.
All four stocks were higher in morning trading.
(Editing by Jilian Mincer and Nick Zieminski)