The Easter shift helped make March a good month for retailers with same-store sales rising a higher-than-expected 5.7 percent (compared with projections of a 4 percent gain).
The early tally of a majority of the nation's top 52 chain stores reporting to Thomson Financial showed 79% outpacing Wall Street's expectations.
At the International Council of Shopping Centers, the cumulative gain of same-store sales, the industry's most important gauge of growth measuring sales at stores open longer than a year, stood at 5.7% -- markedly better than the 3% to 4% increase projected.
But there's talk emerging that April has not gone nearly as well.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which released its monthly results along with other merchants on Thursday, expects the current month to be "tough." Federated Stores Inc. said that its first-quarter sales will come in at the low end of expectations. And Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. warned that its first-quarter earnings per share would fall short of Wall Street forecasts.