The calendar shift (with Easter falling early in April) and deep discounting among retailers helped propel the industry to a 3.6 percent gain in same-store sales. Easter is usually a slow period for retail sales, so having it fall in March meant that April was free from its downward effects. Further, retailers aggressive promotion plans seemed to help push sales volumes even if in the end it might cut into margins when retailers report quarterly earnings.
CNBC has a rundown of the results. Margaret Brennan adds her take here, which includes a video. She points out that retailers did get some boost from the stimulus checks. At Wal-Mart, for example, $350 million worth of stimulus checks were spent. Brennan also says that 58 percent of retailers beat estimates, but cautions that fiscally, May is the smallest month of the second quarter and many retailers are already cautioning that they won't preform as well in June. So it may be too soon to start throwing a party just yet.
ICSC's report can be accessed here (if you're a member.)