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Apparel retailers disappoint in April


New York City As an early Easter prompted many U.S. consumers to move up their spring spending to March, many retailers posted disappointing results for April. The results were not unexpected and many industry experts and chains looked at the combined two-month results for a better read of the consumer sentiment than April alone.

Some of the biggest misses were posted by teen apparel retailers. At Hot Topic, same-store sales were down 12.5%, while Thomson expected a 7.9% drop. The Buckle, a high-flyer throughout much of the recession, posted a 5.7% decline, while expectations were for a 1.7% jump.

Gap's same-stores sales dropped 3% in April, with declines across all of its brands and overseas. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a 1.3% increase. Total revenue for the four weeks ended May 1 was flat at $1.05 billion.

For the first quarter, Gap reported a 4% increase in same-store sales. Total quarterly revenue increased 6% to $3.33 billion. Wall Street had forecast $3.3 billion.

At Aeropostale, same-store sales dropped 5% in April, also worse than analysts expected. But the company raised guidance because margins improved over the prior year.

For the month, the teen retailer's total net revenue edged down to $137.2 million from $137.7 million. Aeropostale said its merchandise margins increased significantly over the prior year and its inventories are still well controlled.

At Limited Brands, same-store sales rose 4% in April, in line with Wall Street expectations. Total sales at the Limited rose to $584.6 million, from $531.2 million. Total revenue for the four weeks ended May 1 rose 10% to $584.6 million.

Urban Outfitters reported an 11% rise in April same-store sales. Total sales climbed 25% to $480 million. Same-store sales at its Anthropology stores rose 22% in the quarter while direct-to-consumer sales jumped 42%.

In other April same-store highlights:

-- Discount apparel retailer Ross Stores said Thursday that same-store sales rose 3% in April, less than the 6.3% jump that analysts had forecast. Total sales for the month rose 7% to $570 million.

CEO Michael Balmuth said the company misjudged the impact of the shift of Easter to March from April.

"April also was hurt by unseasonably cool and wet weather, especially in California, our largest market," he said.

-- The Wet Seal said same-store sales fell 6.1% in April. Analysts had expected a 2.5%.

-- Abercrombie & Fitch Co.'s same-store sales fell 7%, worse than analysts predicted. Total revenue rose 8% to $214.3 million.

The teen clothing company's namesake brand posted a 7% drop in same-store sales, while abercrombie kids reported a 5% drop. Sales fell 7% at Hollister.

For the quarter, the company's revenue at stores open at least a year grew 1% , while total net revenue rose 14%  to $687.8 million.

-- American Eagle Outfitters said sales fell 6%, worse than the 3.9% decline Wall Street expected. Revenue for the month fell 1% to $192 million.

For the first quarter, same-store sales rose 5% , while total revenue increased 8% to $659 million, above analysts’ expectations.

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