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US Apparel Retailers Report Decent April Comp Sales


A number of U.S. apparel retailers on Thursday reported modest increases in sales at established stores for the month of April, as warmer weather saw shoppers venture out for spring clothing.

The shift of Easter from late March last year to mid-April this year also favorably impacted April sales, while March sales were unfavorably impacted.

Looking ahead to the month of May, sales will get a boost from Mother's Day, which is seen as the second biggest gifting holiday in the year after Christmas. Shoppers will later stock up on summer styles when retailers offer their annual Memorial Day discounts.

Sales at established stores or comparable-store sales is a key retail industry performance metric to gauge activity at store locations that have been open for at least a year.

L Brands, Inc. (LB), the operator of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works chains, said its April comparable store sales increased 8 percent, reflecting strength of its Victoria's Secret Stores as well as Bath & Body Works stores. The result significantly topped Street expectations for a 4.3 percent increase. Net sales also grew 9 percent to $717.6 million from $660.5 billion last year.

Stein Mart, Inc. (SMRT) reported a 8.9 percent growth in comparable store sales for the month of April. Total monthly sales also increased to $108.1 million from $99.3 million in the prior-year month.

"I am delighted with our strong April sales. As you know, February and March sales were impacted by colder weather and the Easter calendar shift. Now that warmer weather is here, our customers are responding just wonderfully to our spring merchandise," CEO Jay Stein stated.

Another specialty retailer of action sports related apparel, footwear, equipment and accessories Zumiez, Inc. (ZUMZ) reported Wednesday that its comparable store sales for April grew 8.2 percent. Total net sales also increased 17.6 percent from last year to $50.6 million.

Teen apparel retailer Buckle, Inc. (BKE) announced that comparable store net sales for the month of April edged up 0.8 percent. Net sales also increased 2.4 percent to $75.76 million from last year's $73.8 million.

Meanwhile, value-priced fashion apparel retailer Cato Corp. (CATO) reported that April same-store sales increased 18 percent. Total sales also grew 21 percent from last year to $93.5 million.

"April sales and the combined sales for March and April were above expectations," commented John Cato, Chairman, President, and CEO of Cato.

A report released from the Conference Board on April 29 showed a modest deterioration in U.S. consumer confidence index in the month of April, reflecting a less favorable assessment of current business and labor market conditions.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index dipped to 82.3 in April from an upwardly revised 83.9 in March. Economists had expected the index to climb to 83.0 from the 82.3 originally reported for the previous month. However, the index is still at its second best level since January of 2008.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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