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Costco, Other Chain Stores Report Retail Sales for April Tomorrow

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Same-store retail sales from many of the country’s largest chains are scheduled to hit the tape tomorrow. Sales in February and March rose just 2% and 1.4%, respectively, so the most recent projection from Retail Metrics that sales will rise 3.5% looks like a major improvement. In April of 2012, same-store sales rose 0.8% (2.5% excluding drug stores), so sales could be picking up.

Specialty apparel stores are expected to post a gain of 5.9% compared with April 2012, the largest boost in the group. Apparel stores aren’t far behind with projected growth of 5.8%. Department stores lag, with an expected drop of 0.8% in April same-store sales.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) drags the department store group down with a projected drop in same-store sales of 11.7%. Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) is forecast to see sales drop 3% in April.

Among the discount stores, Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) is expected to post a gain of 4.9% excluding gasoline sales and PriceSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PSMT) is forecast to show a gain of 10.2%. Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) has already ready reported an 8% jump in same-store sales for April, well above the 3% estimate from Retail Metrics.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is among the many stores that no longer report monthly sales, but Retail Metrics forecasts sales at Sam’s Club stores will rise by 1.6% while sales at the company’s other stores will fade by 0.1%. Overall, Walmart sales are forecast to rise 0.4%, well below last year’s 3% gain in April.

Retail Metrics notes that lower prices for gasoline, an extra shopping day, and generally better news on the U.S. economy helped drive sales in April. Late snow and cold temperatures in parts of the country, the payroll tax increase, and the effects of the sequester acted as drags on sales.