Although department stores were widely expected to post lower March comps on Thursday morning, on the back of surging gas prices and a later Easter — a holiday widely thought to stimulate the spring shopping season — their stocks were all up by Wednesday’s end.
Analyst Scott Krasik of BB&T Capital Markets said, “The consensus opinion is that March won’t be stellar, so there’s a chance to surprise on the upside.”
The International Council of Shopping Centers said it expects same-store sales to be flat at worst, or up 2 percent at best, while MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks total U.S. retail sales made by cash, check or credit card, said Wednesday that overall apparel sales improved 4.4 percent in March, led by healthy gains in women’s and children’s apparel, which rose 6.6 percent and 13.3 percent, respectively.
But footwear slid 1.6 percent, MasterCard added.
Dillard’s Inc. led the gains, closing 3.6 percent higher at $42.80. Macy’s Inc. was up 2.4 percent at $25.19, and Saks Inc. closed 1.4 percent higher at $11.97.
Although not reporting comps, footwear firms and athletic retailers had a good trading day, too.
Big Five Sporting Goods Inc. was the top gainer for the day, advancing 3.5 percent to $12.30. Collective Brands Inc. increased 1.7 percent to $22.45. DSW Inc. inched up 0.8 percent to $43.47 and Brown Shoe Co. closed 0.6 percent higher at $12.56.