April Sales Bring Better Biz

After a tough beginning of the year, April proved to be a good month for retailers.

The companies followed by a California Apparel News index reported better-than-expected performances for April and beat many Wall Street forecasts.

Some of the most encouraging news came from Nebraska. The Buckle Inc., a Kearney, Neb.–headquartered mall retailer, reported 22 months of declines, including a 3.5 percent same-store-sales decline in April. However, last month’s drop registered only in the single digits. It was the smallest decline since August 2015, and it beat a Wall Street consensus estimate of a decline of 6.2 percent, said Ken Perkins, president of market-research firm Retail Metrics.

Cato Corp., a Charlotte, N.C., retailer, reported a same-store-sales decline of 2 percent. Perkins said that the performance broke a five-month string of double-digit declines. L Brands Inc., the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Henry Bendel, also beat forecasts. Retail Metrics predicted that the company would post a decline of 3.3 percent. But it reported a same-store-sales increase of 5 percent.

Zumiez Inc. also beat Retail Metrics’ forecast of a same-store-sales gain of 4.5 percent. Zumiez reported an increase of 7.8 percent.

However, beating forecasts did not mean executives were thrilled with their company’s performances. John Cato, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Cato, said that his company’s first-quarter earnings would reflect a tough year.

“Our negative sales trends persisted throughout March and April as we continued to work through our merchandise assortment missteps. We still expect first-quarter earnings to be significantly less than last year,” Cato said. The company is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings on May 18.