March comparable-store sales for the handful of retailers reporting Thursday were mostly positive.
The Easter holiday is expected to boost March sales because some retailers will count Easter sales with March figures. Most March comps will be reported next Thursday. Retailers said the best read on spring would be to look at March and April comps together.
Dress Barn reported a same-store sales increase of 12 percent for the month. The company said its sales Easter week, one of the company's highest-volume weeks, would be part of April's numbers.
Deb Shops also reported positive comparable sales, up 6.5 percent over last year.
Christopher & Banks reported flat sales for the month, but said results exceeded expectations. "We are encouraged that March same-store sales results showed significant improvement over February and were above our expectations for the month. Customer response to our new merchandise deliveries has been positive and we are optimistic about the remainder of the spring selling season," said Matt Dillon, president and chief executive officer.
Retailers outside the apparel sphere also turned in some positive early results. Rite Aid reported a 3.3 percent increase in same-store sales and CVS/Caremark Corp. reported an increase of 7 percent.
Analysts' previews expect comps to be strong in March, driven by the shift of the Easter holiday selling week into the month by many retailers. Analysts note that while March sales will benefit from the shift, April numbers could be hurt by the change.
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