Early indications are that April sales at many US retailers failed to meet analysts’ forecasts, as an early Easter and poor weather combined to hold back growth.

Discount colossus Wal-Mart said sales (at stores open at the same period last year) increased 3.3% year-on-year in April, below predictions of 3.9%; while budget rival Target posted comparable-store sales growth of just 0.4%, well below forecasts of 4%.

There was more positive news from department store groups such as JC Penney and Kohl’s, which posted respective sales rises of 5.5% and 5.3%, marginally beating expectations. However, Federated (owner of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s) saw a 5.9% drop in same-store sales, but raised earnings guidance due to margin improvements.

The index of comparable-store sales at seventy retailers compiled by Prudential Securities rose 1.9% for the month, matching expectations. For March and April combined, the index climbed 3.6%, well ahead of the 1.6% increase posted in the same months last year.

Declared Prudential analyst Wayne Hood: “It is clear we have reached the bottom, but the question is, how much can we accelerate off that bottom?”

Data sourced from: Financial Times; The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff