April sales surge bolsters Macy's optimism

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 14, 2014 at 11:33 am •  Published: May 14, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — After a slow, cold winter, Macy's Inc. saw its business improve in April as the spring thaw heated up shoppers' demand for shorts and T-shirts, the department store chain said Wednesday.

But Mother Nature's aid came too late to boost the department store chain's first-quarter sales, which missed expectations despite a 3.2 percent increase in profit.

Macy's stuck by its full-year earnings outlook, indicating it thinks the April sales surge will continue.

Investors pushed shares slightly higher in midday trading as Macy's raised its dividend by 25 percent and increased its stock buyback program as a reflection of its confidence.

"Overall, business trends were soft in January through March, with the exception of the Valentine's Day shopping period," Macy's Chairman and CEO Terry J. Lundgren said in a statement. "The trend improved in April when the weather began to turn in northern climate zones. We see this as a good sign moving forward into the second quarter."

Macy's, a standout among its peers throughout the economic recovery, is the first of the major retailers to report first-quarter results, which should provide insight into shoppers' mindset heading into the summer season. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. are scheduled to report their results Thursday.

Like many retailers, Macy's, which has corporate offices in Cincinnati and New York, was hurt by winter snowstorms and rain that kept shoppers away from malls. It's still unknown whether stores can make up for the lost business.

Macy's and others that cater to middle-class shoppers are facing economic hurdles. While the job market is improving and the housing market is rebounding, the gains are not strong enough to sustain big shopping sprees.

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