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Spending slows at big retailers in April; Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, Costco fall short of expectations

New York -- Macy's Inc., Target Corp., Kohl’s, Saks and Costco’s Wholesale Corp. all reported results that fell short of expectations in April. An early Easter, which helped fuel March results, high gas prices, cool weather and renewed worries about the economy contributed to the decline, according to many analysts.

“Early results show there was a sequential slowdown from a particularly strong February and March,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics LLC, in an AP report. “Weather cooled and consumer took a bit of a breather. But spending is still decent.”

One of the strongest performances in April was turned in by TJX Cos., whose same-store sales rose 6% in April, easily topping Wall Street's forecast. The company also boosted its first-quarter and fiscal 2013 earnings outlooks.

Macy's Inc. said that its same-store sales edged up 1.2% in April. Analysts had predicted a 1.9% increase. The retailer said that it expected its monthly performance to be softer than March given the earlier Easter and a shift in a cosmetics event to March from April.

Macy’s also said that April was hurt by Mother's Day being later in May than it was a year ago. Online sales, which include macys.com and bloomindales.com, were up 29.9% in April. Macy's revenue at stores open at least a year includes its online sales.

Target Corp. said its same-store sales rose 1.1% in April, below the 2.8% increase predicted.  However, the chain said that same-store sales for the the first quarter rose 5.3%, the strongest performance in six years for that period.

At Kohl's, same-store sales in April fell 3.5%, below the 1% decrease Wall Street was expecting. CEO Kevin Mansell said warm weather in March and an early Easter contributed to the decline in sales for April.

Geographically, Kohl’s said the Midwest, Northeast, South Central and West outperformed the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. It also said the home, accessories and men's departments all reported increases in revenue at stores open at least a year.

Costco Wholesale Corp. missed Wall Street estimates for the second month in a row. Costco’s same-store sales rose 4%, below the expected 5.1% increase.

At Saks Inc., same-store sales rose 2% in April, short of the 4% rise analysts expected.

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