Target, TJX and Ross raise outlook on better-than-expected March sales

New York -- Target Corp., The TJX Cos., and Ross Stores reported stronger-than-expected March sales as warm weather put consumers in a spending mood. Both retailers also revised their first-quarter outlooks upward on the results.

Target said its same-stores sales rose 7.3% in March, helped by warm weather. Analysts had predicted a 5.4% increase.

“March sales were wel-above our expectations, reflecting a healthy underlying trend combined with the benefit of an earlier Easter and favorable weather this year,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target. “We're now planning for a revised first quarter comparable-store sales increase of five to six percent, reflecting a low- to mid-single-digit increase in our April comparable-store sales.”

Target said that strong performers included food, household essentials, clothing and health care items. Electronics products were among the weakest areas.

At TJX Cos., same-store sales surged 10% in March, ahead of expectations. The firm also raised its earnings per share outlook for the fiscal first quarter. TJX reported strong increases in all of its businesses in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

“While unusually warm weather was a positive in the month, sales were also strong in regions where the weather is typically warm,” commented TJX CEO Carol Meyrowitz.

Ross Stores Inc. said mild weather helped drive March same-store sales up a better-than-expected 10%, and the chain raised its forecast of first-quarter profit. Juniors, children and shoes were the strongest categories, and the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Florida were the best regions, the company said.

But not everyone beat expectations. Costco Wholesale Corp.’s same-store sales rose 6% in March, short of the 6.7% increase analysts expected. Taking out higher gas prices and the negative impact of foreign currencies, same-store sales rose 5% in the United States and 9% internationally.