Retailers Post April Sales Gains

MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. here said a 30% increase in comparable-store grocery sales in April helped drive overall comps up by 13.1% for the month, as several retailers posted sales increases for the period

MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. [3] here said a 30% increase in comparable-store grocery sales in April helped drive overall comps up by 13.1% for the month, as several retailers posted sales increases for the period.

Target said, however, that the comps were "somewhat below expectations, as guests continued to be very cautious in their spending leading up to Easter."

The later Easter this year — in April vs. March in 2010 — boosted comps for many retailers, including BJ's Wholesale Club [4], Natick, Mass., which said comps rose 4.1% in April, excluding gasoline. The late Easter had a positive impact of about 2.7%, the company said. Total sales for the month were up 12.2% to $871.7 million, including gas.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corp. [5], by contrast, said the late Easter reduced comps by 1.5% to 2% in April because its stores were closed that day this year, resulting a 27-day sales period vs. a 28-day period a year ago. Total company comps rose 12%, including 11% in the U.S.

Costco said food and sundries comp sales were in the "high single-digit range." Food and sundries inflation was up about 3% year-over-year.