Retail Sales Beat Expectations

Many major retailers show increases in same-store sales.

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With gas prices getting higher, it's reasonable to think that American shoppers would not have been very active in recent weeks. But today's reports on same-store sales—those at stores open more than a year—show gains at most of the nation's major retailers in April, compared with a year earlier. The Thomson Reuters Same Store Sales Index tracks these reports and registered a 2.5 percent increase for last month. In April 2007, by comparison, that index fell 1.8 percent.

Once again, discounters were the big winners. Costco's same-store sales soared 8 percent and Wal-Mart's went up 3.2 percent. Target also saw gains of 3.1 percent, but the chain's sales were down by 1.3 percent if you combine March and April. One big surprise was that despite department stores' lackluster results overall, Saks put up the most impressive numbers of all the major retailers, with its same-store sales rising nearly 24 percent. Companies that reported sales declines for the month included Nordstrom, Gap, and J.C. Penney.