By  on May 3, 2012

LAW OF AVERAGES: The earliness of Easter, the lateness of Mother’s Day, the nastiness of the weather and the high price of gas were all expected to work against April’s same-store sales results. And they did, even more than most expected. Thomson Reuters’ tally of analysts’ estimates for the month called for a 1.5 percent increase, with the actual mean result picking up just 0.8 percent. Combining March and April, the increase was 2.5 percent compared with a 5.4 percent climb last year. More than half the stores reported missed estimates last month.

APPAREL WITHOUT APOLOGIES: Department and discount stores — ranging from Saks Inc. to Kohl’s Corp. to Target Corp. — fared worse than expected, and the relative strength of apparel stores, a point higher than anticipated with a 3.2 percent gain, was due in large part to the inclusion of powerhouse off-pricers TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. They had respective increases of 6 and 7 percent and lifted their first-quarter earnings guidance. Excluding Gap Inc., another disappointment last month with a 2 percent slide, apparel stores forged ahead 5.3 percent versus the 3.5 percent gain expected.

RELATED STORY: Stores Struggle With April Sales >>

In the unofficial competition between teen retailers that have abandoned monthly sales reporting, Aéropostale Inc. Thursday followed American Eagle Outfitters Inc.’s lead from the day before, lifting its first-quarter earnings estimates to a range of 12 cents to 13 cents a diluted share from the previous range of between 8 cents and 10 cents. The New York-based store had more modest growth in comp sales — up 2 percent including e-commerce, versus a 17 percent jump at AEO.

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