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No Rain On Chains’ April Sales

Strong seasonal sales for Easter plus favorable year-over-year comparisons due to calendar shifts helped send retail sales soaring for mass merchants last month.

Among chains reporting, Wal-Mart said net sales in April rose 13.7 percent to $16.9 billion while same store sales gained 7.3 percent. “April was a strong month for toys, from traditional items … to electronics,” observed Tom Schoewe, executive VP/chief financial officer of Wal-Mart Stores. “We have seen customers buying more toys, video games, music and movies, in addition to candy, to fill Easter baskets.”

At Target, April net sales increased 17.3 percent to just under $4 billion while same-store sales grew 10.4 percent. Chairman/CEO Bob Ulrich said the robust gains were in line with expectations and reflected the effect of this year’s later Easter holiday.

Within the wholesale club channel, Costco reported an 11 percent increase in net April sales to $4.4 billion company-wide, while same store sales within the United States rose 7 percent. At Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club unit, net sales increased 6.1 percent to $3.1 billion, and comparable-store sales climbed 3.8 percent.

For BJ’s, April brought a 6.3 percent increase in net sales to $1.9 billion, and a 5.5 percent spike in same store sales led by “strong increases” in TVs and other consumer electronics, the company said.

Elsewhere, sales continued to fall for novelty CE maker and marketer Sharper Image, which reported a 23 percent decline in net April revenue, to $33.1 million. Comparable-store sales slid 32 percent.

“Sales for the month of April continued to disappoint us,” said Richard Thalheimer, founder, chairman and CEO of the proprietary product chain. Despite the overall downturn, which he attributed to lower advertising expenditures, Thalheimer reported higher sales from infomercials and an anticipated improvement in operating trends in the second half of the company’s fiscal year.