(Adds International Council of Shopping Centers data,
By Justin Grant
NEW YORK May 8 U.S. retail sales rebounded in
April after the worst March in 13 years, as warmer weather
boosted demand for spring and summer apparel, while most
discounters shined as cash-strapped consumers hunted for
April sales at U.S. chain stores open at least a year, a
key retail measure known as same-store sales, rose 3.6 percent
from the same month last year, according to the International
Council of Shopping Centers.
Overall, 68 percent of U.S. retailers reported
better-than-expected same-store sales, according to Thomson
April was the best month for retailers since November, said
Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics Inc.
Warehouse club operators who give discounts to shoppers
buying in bulk -- such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc's (WMT.N) Sam's
Club, Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) and BJ's Wholesale Club
BJ.N -- performed well.
Many retailers have struggled in recent months as consumers
pare spending on less essential items in light of soaring
gasoline prices and grocery bills.
Crude oil prices have surged to more than $120 a barrel,
keeping gasoline prices high. As of May 2, the average retail
price for gasoline was a record $3.6245 a gallon.
"Discounters clearly stood head and shoulders above all
comers," Perkins said.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said sales at
stores open at least a year rose 3.2 percent in April,
excluding fuel sales -- topping the average analyst estimate of
2.1 percent growth, according to Reuters Estimates.
At its Sam's Club warehouse segment, same-store sales
advanced 6.6 percent.
In April, Reuters did a number of stories on paycheck
spending, one of which can be found by clicking here
Costco, the nation's largest warehouse club operator
posted an 8 percent increase in April same-store sales, while
total sales climbed 12 percent to $5.54 billion. Analysts, on
average, had expected a 6 percent increase in same-store
"We are, of course, benefiting from some inflation on the
food side as a result of the recent run up in the cost of
commodities and the continued run up in the price of oil and
gasoline," the company said.
BJ's, the No. 3 U.S. warehouse club operator, said April
same-store sales rose 17.8 percent. Gasoline was responsible
for 5.5 percent of that gain, BJ's said.
Target Corp (TGT.N) was the lone damper in the category,
missing Wall Street's expectations for a second straight month.
The discounter said April same-store sales rose 3.1 percent,
missing the average analyst estimate of 4.5 percent.
EARLY EASTER, WARMER TEMPS
Some companies benefited from Easter falling in March,
meaning retailers had an extra day of possible sales during
April. The holiday -- which usually falls in April -- takes
away one shopping day and reduces total sales for the month.
Warmer weather during the first half of the month drove a
spike in demand for spring and summer apparel.
TJX Cos Inc (TJX.N), which operates the T.J. Maxx and
Marshalls chains, credited warm weather with its 8 percent rise
in April same-store sales. Analysts, on average had expected a
6.3 percent rise.
Fresh spring and summer fashions also brought teens out
from their winter hibernation, as clothing retailer Aeropostale
Inc ARO.N soared, posting a 25 percent increase in April
same-store sales, nearly three times Wall Street's average
Analysts had expected 7.9 percent sales growth from the
Aeropostale, which sells flip-flops and vintage-style
T-shirts, also upped its first-quarter earnings forecast to 25
cents a share, from a prior range of 20 to 22 cents a share.
"The apparel story is definitely a surprise to me. I had
expected apparel would be weak because of the economic
challenges," said Russell Jones, retail director at Alix
"It's much more volatile than the discount segment in the
sense that ... it's easier to skip the apparel purchase than it
is to skip the food purchase."
Struggling department store operator J.C. Penney Co (JCP.N)
credited the weather for helping it top Wall Street's
The company said April sales at department stores open at
least a year fell 1.7 percent, while analysts expected a 5.8
American Eagle Outfitters Inc (AEO.N) also topped
estimates, with same-store sales rising 2 percent. Analysts had
expected a decrease of 0.6 percent.
By contrast, Pacific Sunwear of California Inc PSUN.O
said same-store sales climbed 4 percent, missing Wall Street's
expectation of 5 percent growth.
Limited Brands Inc LTD.N, the operator of the Victoria's
Secret and Bath & Body Works chains said April same-store sales
fell by a wider-than-expected 5 percent. Analysts, on average,
had expected a same-store sales decline of 2.5 percent.
And at Gap Inc (GPS.N), same-store sales fell by a
wider-than-expected 6 percent. Analysts, on average, had
expected a decline of 2 percent.
For a table giving more detail on April retail sales click
(Reporting by Justin Grant; editing by Dave Zimmerman and Tim