NEW YORK CITY-Retail chains posted better-than-expected sales in April, with a 3.6% year-over-year gain, up from the 0.5% drop they recorded in March, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers survey. But the report warns that the gains could be temporary due to last month’s extra Easter shopping days, more seasonable weather and promotional markdowns.

Wholesale clubs thrived in the current economic downturn, shooting up 9.2% as a sector. BJ’s Wholesale had especially strong results, soaring 17.8%, which executives in part said was due to the Easter calendar shift. Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Clubs rose 9.5%, while Costco’s stores gained 8%.

Wal-Mart’s discount stores were up 2.6%, while rival Target fared better with a 3.1% boost. The top performer in the discount chains surveyed was TJX Cos., which had an 8% push.

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