April Showers Dampen Retail Sales

Analysts say April retail sale numbers will likely slump thanks to an early Easter and the return of colder weather. Analysts say they are expecting a 1.5 percent rise in retail sales when stores report April’s numbers on Thursday, paltry growth when compared with the 8.7 percent gain seen for the year-ago period. Combined, March and April is expected to post a 2.9 percent sales gain.

This year, Easter took place two weeks earlier than last, while unseasonably warm temperatures in February and March, which drove demand for spring goods, led to strong March sales. But a drop in temperature and a lack of high profile holidays in April (Easter was early in the month) will likely hurt sales. Many analysts will look to May data for a better picture of demand for warmer weather goods.

Expected individual store sales include a 3.9 percent gain for Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE:LTD), compared with a 20 percent gain for the same period last year,and a 0.8 percent decline for Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS). Discount stores Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST) and TJ Maxx parent TJX Cos. (NYSE:TJX) expect sales of 3.3 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. For luxury brands, Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN) expects a 6.2 percent increase while Saks Inc. (NYSE:SKS) expects growth of 5.6 percent. Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:M), Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST), and Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) expect to see April sales increases of 1.9 percent, 5.4 percent, and 2.8 percent respectively.