Not Much Expected from March Retail Sales, Not Much Delivered

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Retailers are announcing March same-store sales figures today. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 1.5% year-over-year, compared with a 2% gain in February and a 3.9% gain in March of 2012.

In general, March comparable sales were hit by cold, snowy weather that put a crimp in sales of spring merchandise. Other factors contributing the low forecast and results were a later Easter holiday, weaker jobs data and federal budget cuts. Lower gasoline prices, tax refunds and record equity prices were among the positives for the month.

March 2013 is a five-week period for most retailers, ending at April 6 or 7.

Several retailers no longer report monthly same-store sales. These include Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO).

Here’s a rundown:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported that same-store sales for March rose 4%, compared with the similar period in 2012. That is well below the Retail Metrics estimate for a gain of 5.6%, excluding gasoline sales.

Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD) said same-store sales for March rose 3%, compared with the same period last year and a Retail Metrics estimate for a rise of 0.4%. The company, though still named Limited Brands, now wants to be known as “L Brands.”

The Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for March were flat, compared with the same period a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a rise of 0.1%.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported same-store sales for March down 2.8%. Retail Metrics estimated a same-store sales decrease of 1.3%% for Stein Mart.

PriceSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PSMT) reported same-store sales for the four weeks ended March 31 rose 7.9%, below the 8.8% rise estimated by Retail Metrics.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) posted a same-stores sales rise of 2.1% for March, much better than the 8% decline expected by Retail Metrics.

The TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) reported same-store sales fell 2% in March. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a drop of 1.4%.

TJX’s shares are up 0.6% at $47.79 in a 52-week range of $39.38 to $48.20.

Limited’s shares are up 3.1%, at $49.68 in a 52-week range of $40.32 to $52.50.

Costco shares are up 0.2% at $105.92 in a 52-week range of $81.98 to $107.75.

Stein Mart’s shares are down 0.4% at $8.13 in a 52-week range of $6.02 to $9.34.

PriceSmart’s shares are down fractionally at $84.81 in a 52-week range of $59.00 to $86.00.

Zumiez’s shares are up 10.4% at $27.50 in a 52-week range of $17.93 to $41.96.

The Buckle’s shares are trading up 3% at $48.99 in a 52-week range of $36.33 to $51.74.

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