The results are in for April. Retailers posted better-than-expected results. According to Reuters, 64 percent of the 31 retailers that reported beat analyst estimates. Retail Forward's tally of 35 retailers, meanwhile, showed a cumulative 0.9 percent rise in same-store sales compared with April of last year. Lastly, ICSC's data, which looks at 32 retailers (pdf., m'bship required), showed a 0.7 percent rise in same-store sales. Retail Forward published a list of all 35 retailers in its index as a pdf, which you can download here.
According to ICSC, the fiscal year-to-date monthly average is now a 0.5 percent decline compared with last year. April marked the first time same-store sales rose since September 2008. The Easter Shift played a role in the solid results. ICSC's report explains how because the date of Easter moves from year to year, March and April sales results can be skewed. Overall, ICSC points out that March and April looked at in conjunction shows a same-store sales decline of about 1.4 percent.
Research estimates that the Easter shift positively impacted the industry as a whole by 3 percentage points (though some retailers were hurt due to one less selling day (Easter Sunday) in April 2009 relative to the previous year). Typical of this time of the year, the variable nature of date for Easter will affect the timing of consumer purchases for some seasonal items. Easter fell on April 12, 2009, which is three weeks later than in 2008 (March 23). Therefore, on the surface the overall April performance was not as strong as it may appear and the two-month March-April period performance remained sluggish with a run-rate of -1.4% (the average of the two monthly growth rates) or based on a two-month (nine-week) average sales percentage change (which was -0.6%). Either way, the April performance continued to be sluggish with some individual retailer bright spots.