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Unseasonable weather warms up March sales


March was a good month for retailers overall, as an early spring brought out shoppers looking for seasonal merchandise earlier than they typically would. Last month was the warmest March in North America in more than 50 years, according to weather data provider Planalytics.

Target, TJX and Ross Stores all reported stronger-than-expected March sales.

Target said its same-stores sales rose 7.3% in March, helped by warm weather. Analysts had predicted a 5.4% increase. At TJX Cos., same-store sales surged 10% in March, ahead of expectations. Ross Stores delivered a better-than-expected 10%, and the chain raised its forecast of first-quarter profit.

Other retailers that topped estimates were Macy’s, which reported a 7.3% comps increase, outpacing the 4.8% increase predicted by the Street; Limited, which reported an 8% comps increase that handily topped Wall Street expectations and Gap Inc, which reported a 10% comps increase.

But not every company beat expectations. Costco Wholesale Corp.’s same-store sales rose 6% in March, short of the 6.7% increase analysts expected. Taking out higher gas prices and the negative impact of foreign currencies, same-store sales rose 5% in the United States and 9% internationally.

Other results for March included:

  • Zumiez said its same-store sales rose 14.1%;

  • The Wet Seal reported a 7.8% decline;

  • Cato Corp.’s sales increased 7%.

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