Despite such strategies as buy-one-get-one free, consumer caution and a later Easter were factors that led to declines in sales for retailers in March.
The calendar shift of Easter to April this year hurt results of some retailers, especially Wal-Mart Stores Inc., but some chains are predicting stronger sales for April.
Wal-Mart reported that its same-store sales rose 1.4 percent in March, excluding fuel, but analysts had projected a 3.2 percent increase.
U.S. same-store sales for Costco Wholesale Corp. declined 2 percent in March. Some analysts cited the strong competition from Wal-Mart's Sam's Club as a factor.
Same-store sales are sales at stores open at least a year, and they are considered a strong indicator of a retailer's health.
Target Stores' same-store sales fell 6.3 percent, which was better than analysts expected.
Discount stores did better than luxury retailers, which continued to post weak results. Among department stores, those posting same-store sales drops that were smaller than analysts expected are Macy's Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Kohl's Corp. But luxury stores such as Saks Inc., Neiman Marcus and Abercrombie and Fitch reported big declines.
Gap Inc.'s same-store sales fell 8 percent but bettered analysts' expectations, aided by its Old Navy chain.
Job losses and tight credit caused consumers to shop cautiously, with the biggest sellers necessities such as groceries and health products.
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