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CHICAGO, April 10 (Reuters) - Teen clothing retailer Aeropostale Inc. ARO.N said on Thursday its sales at stores open at least a year rose a better-than-expected 2.5 percent in March, helped by demand for spring merchandise, sending shares up more than 4 percent.
Analysts, on average, had expected an increase of 1.4 percent, according to Reuters Estimates.
“We were very pleased with our apparel business and experienced particular strength in women’s and men’s graphic (T-shirts) and denim, women’s bare-knit tops and shorts, offset by weakness in the accessories category,” Aeropostale Vice President Ken Ohashi said on a prerecorded telephone call.
Total sales rose 13.6 percent for the five weeks ended April 5 to $141.8 million, increasing every week but the fourth week.
“We believe the shift in Easter Sunday from April to March this year had an approximate 3 percent negative impact on the month,” Ohashi said.
The New York-based company, with 835 stores, said it continued to see positive customer reaction to its spring merchandise offerings. It also said its inventories remain well controlled and on plan, and gross profit margins in March were higher than last year.
Sales in the Northeast and South rose in the low-single digit range, while rising in the high-single digits in the West, the company said. They were flat in the Midwest.
Women’s merchandise sales in March were flat, while men’s rose in the high-single digits, the company said.
Shares of Aeropostale were up $1.08, or 4.1 percent, at $27.24 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Dave Zimmerman)