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Same-Store Sales Growth Under 1 Percent in April

U.S. same-store sales lost most of their momentum in April, with most market sources reporting aggregate growth under 1 percent for the industry. The slowdown, which stands in stark contrast to robust sales growth in recent months, is being attributed to the early Easter, a sharp decline in Walgreen Corp.'s sales because of its loss of Express Scripts and tough year-over-year comparisons.

Thomson Reuters, which tracks 20 retail chains, reports that its same-store sales index for April rose just 0.8 percent. Analysts were predicting an increase of 1.5 percent for the month.

ICSC's tally of 22 retailers showed an increase of 0.6 percent in same-store sales. Drug stores had a particularly bad month, with a sales decrease of 4.1 percent. Luxury stores performed the best, posting growth of 5.8 percent. Apparel retailers were somewhere in between, with growth of 2.2 percent.

The blog RetailSails, which looks at results from 21 retailers, reported growth of 0.8 percent. But its authors believe there is still reason for optimism:

There was a significant drop-off in foot traffic after Easter, and because of the earlier Easter and Mother's Day falling later this year than last, a lull in activity that seemed to affect the majority of retailers.

However, the combined March-April period (excluding Walgreen) continued to show positive momentum, and higher gas prices have yet to have a significant impact. We are seeing a lot more full-priced selling of apparel and seasonal merchandise in the first quarter compared to heavy promotional activity over the holiday season, which we expect will help bolster first quarter margins.

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