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Friday, April 8, 2011

Luxury Brands Report Strong Sales in March

Luxury retail sales continue to be the bright spot in an otherwise fragile U.S. retail sector that is balancing on a number of internal and external factors.

In March, luxury department stores reported sales increases for stores open more than a year. Among them are Saks Fifth Avenue (up 11.1 percent) Neiman Marcus (up 8.8 percent) and Nordstrom (up 5.1 percent). Victoria’s Secret, the high-end lingerie store owned by Limited Brands reported a 19 percent increase in same store sales.

Meanwhile, Limited-owned GAP, a mid-market brand, reported a same store sales drop of 9 percent. Other mid-market and low-end stores were disappointing, as well, including Target (down 5.5 percent), Dilliards (down 1 percent) and Kohl’s (down 6.5 percent).

The International Council of Shopping Centers said comparable sales at chain stores increased 2 percent in March, year-over-year. The retail organization said a late Easter impacted year-over-year sales data.

“Sales for the month of March were on the high side of our expectations despite the negative impact of the Easter-date shift and less than favorable weather conditions in parts of the country,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. “This gain, in the face of somewhat adverse factors, was encouraging and reflected a solid underlying trend in consumer demand.”

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