After a soft comparable-store sales performance in March, all
eyes are on April. As retailers continued to grapple with cold
weather in March, spring merchandise moved slowly from the
shelves. In fact, retailers are still reeling under margin
pressure as promotional activities undertaken during a soft
holiday season as well as adverse weather conditions in January
and February played spoilsport. Moreover, a shift in the Easter
holiday also subdued March sales.
Although comps showed improvement over February, the growth
was not enough to alleviate the tough year-over-year comparison,
as the prior-year period benefited from Easter holiday on March
31 that shifted to April 20 this year.
Data compiled by Retail Metrics Inc. revealed that
comparable-stores sales during March increased 3.5% from the
projected 2.5%. However, excluding the healthy comparable-store
sales performance of
Costco Wholesale Corp.
), sales grew 1.6%, the retail research firm stated.
Costco emerged strongly, posting comparable-store sales growth
of 5%, when most retailers witnessed soft sales. Retailers such
L Brands, Inc.
The Gap, Inc.
) saw their comparable-store sales declining 1%, 6% and 2.9%,
respectively, during March. On the other hand,
The Buckle, Inc.
The Cato Corporation
) registered comps decline of 1.8% and 5%, respectively, while
Stein Mart Inc.
) experienced comps growth of 0.9%.
Now the question is whether April will bring showers of good
fortune for retailers after soft comparable-store sales in March.
We foresee an answer in the affirmative, and there are factors
that also echo the same. A quick analysis will give a clearer
Analysts remained optimistic about a sales surge in April due
to increasing consumer spending activity, given moderating
weather conditions, pent-up demand on account of Easter and
higher disposable income because of tax refunds. Moreover, the
unemployment rate of 6.7%, hovering near the Fed's target and
consumer confidence moving north also validates a better scenario
for April. The recent Conference Board's data showed that
Consumer Confidence Index improved to 82.3 in March from 78.3 in
Thus overall situation seems to be rebounding and could result
a pickup in store traffic and online sales. International Council
of Shopping Centers (ICSC) anticipates comparable-store sales
increase of 3.5% to 4% in April, while National Retail Federation
projects total Easter spending to reach $15.9 billion. But how
far the month of April will prove favorable for retailers, is a
BUCKLE INC (BKE): Free Stock Analysis Report
COSTCO WHOLE CP (COST): Free Stock Analysis
GAP INC (GPS): Free Stock Analysis Report
L BRANDS INC (LB): Free Stock Analysis Report
ZUMIEZ INC (ZUMZ): Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.