Retail Wrap-Up: Early Easter Boosts March, Drags April

Although its arrival and departure are in the rearview, Easter and its impact on retail performance continues to create Wall Street buzz. This year’s early arrival, experts say, may have offered a slight jolt to March retail sales while creating a drag for April.

“Retailers root for a late Easter every year, as the likelihood of warm weather is higher,” said Steve Marotta, CL King & Associates analyst. “Early Easter, however, might have slightly positively impacted March.”

Among the footwear companies impacted by the shift forward of Easter are Shoe Carnival, Famous Footwear, Skechers and DSW, according to Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser.

“The shift forward of Easter was additive to sales over the past two weeks, but will prove detrimental for the first two weeks of April,” Poser said in note this morning.

Skechers’ business, added Poser, remains robust, but the California-based shoe maker will feel the impact of the shift in early April.

Non-footwear companies ranging from membership-only warehouse club Costco Wholesale Corp. to L Brands Inc.—Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secrets parent company—have also felt the impact of the shift.

“L Brands reported March [comparable same-store sales gains] of 9 percent versus [a loss] of 1 percent last year, beating our 6 percent estimate and management’s mid-single-digit guidance,” said Wunderlich Securities analyst Danielle McCoy in a note today. “We note three to four points were attributed to the earlier Easter season.”

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