Home Depot Inc reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales as inclement weather hurt demand for seasonal goods at the start of the spring selling season.

The world's largest home improvement retailer said its sales fell 0.2 percent to $16.82 billion in the first quarter ended on May 1, missing the analysts' average estimate of $17.02 billion.

Lower expenses helped Home Depot beat Wall Street expectations on the profit front. Net income rose to $812 million, or 50 cents a share, from $725 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 49 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The results came the day after smaller rival Lowe's Cos reported weaker-than-expected quarterly results and cut its forecast for the year after a slow start to the key selling season for home improvement chains.

Home improvement chains have found it harder to sell their ware to homeowners in an uneven U.S. economy. Many shoppers have stayed away from expensive renovations amid falling housing prices.

A colder-than-usual spring further eroded demand for outdoor products.

Also, both chains are up against strong numbers from last year, when a first-time home buyer tax credit and a federal stimulus for energy-efficient appliances boosted demand.

Sales at Home Depot stores open at least a year fell 0.6 percent, with those at U.S. stores declining 0.7 percent.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)