An early Easter holiday helped top U.S. retailers beat Wall Street's sales expectations as a pickup in consumer spending expanded from discounters to department stores and teen clothing chains.

Monthly results also benefited from an improved job market and warm weather. But some retail executives and analysts warned the boom could be short-lived as consumers may have shifted much of their spending into March at the expense of future purchases.

Macy's Chief Executive Terry Lundgren said the earlier Easter would hurt April sales.

The company said sales at stores open at least one year rose 10.8 percent in March from a year earlier, well ahead of the 7.9 percent increase analysts had expected, but it forecast flat results for April.

TJX Cos Inc said same-store sales were up 12 percent, far above estimates, prompting the off-price retailer to raise its profit outlook.

But it sees much more modest same-store sales growth of 2 percent to 4 percent in April, while department store operator Kohl's forecast a low double-digit percentage decline following its 22.5 percent surge in March.

March was a very solid month, but I think there's more than enough hints that the American consumer is still fully not back, said Brean Murray, Carret & Co analyst Eric Beder. We're going to see, barring a miracle, materially weaker numbers for April.

Macy's shares fell more than 1 percent in premarket trading, while rival J.C. Penney shed nearly 4 percent. Early gainers included TJX, up 2.7 percent, and Gap Inc , which rose 4.8 percent.


Overall, March same-store sales rose 9.1 percent, beating Wall Street's forecast for a 6.3 percent increase, according to Thomson Reuters data. More than 90 percent of the 28 retailers that Thomson Reuters tracks topped estimates.

Other retailers that reported March sales above Wall Street expectations include Limited Brands Inc . Same-store sales for the operator of lingerie chain Victoria's Secret rose 15 percent, and its shares rose 1.5 percent in early trading.

Upscale department store Nordstrom Inc reported a rise of 16.8 percent, compared with estimates of 10.6 percent. Warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp's same-store sales rose a better-than-expected 10 percent.

On Wednesday, youth apparel chains Hot Topic Inc and Zumiez Inc also handily topped expectations, and were followed by strong sales reports from Wet Seal and The Buckle Inc on Thursday.

But in a sign of how Wall Street expectations may be getting ahead of actual performance, Abercrombie & Fitch came in short of forecasts with only a 5 percent rise. Its shares fell 3.2 percent.

(Additional reporting by Martinne Geller, Ben Klayman, Brad Dorfman, Jessica Wohl and Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Lisa Von Ahn)