By Brad Dorfman
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Retailers are likely to show strong sales gains in April when several chains report on Thursday, as the late Easter spurred sales of candy and clothes.
Continue Reading Below
The Thomson Reuters chain store sales index, which is based on analysts' estimates, calls for an 8.2 percent increase from the 25 retailers it tracks that report monthly sales. That would be on top of the better-than-expected 1.7 percent increase in March.
The biggest factor boosting sales is Easter, which was on April 24 this year and April 4 last year, moving many holiday related purchases into March.
Still, analysts are not expecting to see the big positive surprises that came with March sales, as gasoline prices push over $4 a gallon in parts of the country and unemployment remains high. That could also become more of a factor in coming months, when there is no major holiday to spur sales.
"I paid $4.45 a gallon today," said Patty Edwards, chief investment officer at Bellevue, Washington-based Trutina Financial. "I'll tell you, that is certainly cutting into my Nordstrom fund."
Retail chains ranging from discounter Target Corp
Already, some retailers posted April sales at stores open at least a year that beat analyst expectations, including teen apparel retailers Zumiez Inc
"We do not think there has been any major change in momentum, and we believe the companies that have had strong comps (Limited brands Inc
Stocks have also priced in a strong performance in April, with the Standard & Poor's retail index <.RLX> up 15.9 percent since March sales were reported, compared with a 13.6 percent increase in the S&P 500. <.SPX>.
Sales might have also been hurt by weather that was cooler this year than last year, according to business weather advisory firm Planlytics.
(Reporting by Brad Dorfman, editing by Bernard Orr)