ICSC: Retail Comps Increase 2.2% in April

New York City, There was a chill in the air across much of the retail landscape country in April. Part of it was the weather, and part of it was the chilling effect of high gas prices on retail spending. Plus, retail sales were depressed by an unusual calendar shift that pushed Easter spending into March. Through it all, April same-store sales increased 2.2% on a year-over-year basis, according to the tally from the International Council of Shopping Centers, modestly surpassing expectations.

Giant Wal-Mart Stores posted a mere 0.1% comparable store sales growth at its Wal-Mart Division and 0.9% overall, while rival Target Corp. posted a slightly better 1.3% comp-store gain.

High-flying apparel specialty chains continuted to show stellar same-store sales increases: bebe, 31.2%, American Eagle, 20.0%, Abercrombie & Fitch, 15.0%, and Chico’s FAS, 15.5%. Neiman Marcus paced the luxury department store field with 14.2% comps.

And the wholesale club sector performed well. Coscto comps increased 8.0% and BJ’s Wholeslae comps increased 8.4%.

“The results in April were uneven, but there were clear pockets of strength,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research.