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Apparel retailers beat expectations


New York City Apparel retailers continued to be impacted by the drop in discretionary spending in April, but there were signs that consumers’ willingness to spend is warming up with the spring weather.

Many retailers reported better-than-expected results, including The Children’s Place Retail Stores, whose same-store sales rose 5% in April. The retailer offered first-quarter guidance above analyst expectations.

Children’s Place total sales for the four weeks ended May 2 rose 5% to $135 million. For the first quarter, same-store sales including online sales rose 1%, while total sales were flat at $401.9 million.

The Cato Corp., which reported a same-store sales increase of 11% for April, raised its first-quarter earnings estimate. Total sales for the four-week period ended May 2, were up 14% to $79.4 million.

Sales for the first quarter ended May 2 were $238.1 million, a 5% increase over sales of $225.8 million last year. Comparable-store sales increased 3% for the first quarter.

Cato said it now expects to open a total of 46 stores during 2009, including 13 Cato stores and 33 It’s Fashion Metro stores.

In other results:

  • Stage Stores said Thursday that its same-store sales dipped 1.5% in April as Northeast shoppers held back on spending. The results beat analysts’ estimates;

  • Destination Maternity Corp. said its April same-store sales fell 1.2% and were down 3.2% after adjusting for timing of Easter. Total sales for the month fell 4.3% to $49.9 million, mainly due to the closure of all of the company’s remaining leased departments within Sears stores last year; and

  • Chico’s FAS’ same-store sales dropped 3.2% in the first quarter, ended May 2, compared with a 17.5% decrease in the year-ago period. Total sales edged up 0.2% to $410.6 million.

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