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March Retail Sales Strong...Now for the Bad News
CNBC.com | April 05, 2012 | 09:18 AM EDT

March retail sales strong: March same-store sales up 3.9 percent, well above estimates of 3.3 percent, according to RetailMetrics.

Strength across the board: Sales at Macy's, Gap, Ross Stores, Limited Brands, Kohl’s, TJX Cos., and Target (which also raised first-quarter earnings guidance) all well above expectations.

Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell summed it up: “Warmer weather and an earlier Easter combined to help improve our sales trend.”

One slight disappointment: Costco Wholesale up 6 percent, slightly below expectations of 6.7 percent, but the nation's largest warehouse retailer was up against very difficult comps: March was spectacular in the prior last two years, up 23 percent in the last two years combined (up 10 percent in 2010; up 13 percent in 2011).

Now for the bad news: a) the Street has long priced in these strong numbers and most are at or near new highs; b) the warm weather, such a boon for the last three months, may have pulled some numbers forward; and c) April comps are tough — April same-store were up 8.7 percent last year, according to RetailMetrics, because Easter was two weeks later, toward the end of March.

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