Costco shines in March as other retailers muddle through

New York -- March was a so-so month for retailers, whose performance was impacted by unspring-like, cold temperatures in many parts of the country and a late Easter. (Easter falls on April 20 this year as opposed to March 31 last year.)

The eight retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters posted a 2.2% increase in March same-store sales, better than the expected 1.4% increase.

At the head of the pack was Costco Wholesale Club, which reported a better-than-expected 5% increase in total same-store sales for March. Net sales rose 8% to $10.43 billion.

Gap Inc. said that March same-store sales were down 6%, with the biggest declines at its namesake chain and at Old Navy. The retailer also reported that gross margins for its first quarter would decline, with a bigger rate of decline than they posted in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year. But it affirmed its earnings-per-share targets for the year.

"While March performance has been challenging, we remain confident in the opportunities ahead," Gap CEO Glenn Murphy said in a statement.

At L Brands, March same-store sales fell 1%, compared with the 1.6% decrease expected by analysts.

Zumiez’s same-store sales fell 2.9%, beating estimates for a 4.4% drop. The Buckle reported a 1.8% decline versus the expected 3.2% drop.

Fred's reported a 1.2% decrease in same-store sales, matching expectations.


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