NEW YORK CITY-Retailers’ year-over-year same-store sales in March rose 5.9%, beating the International Council of Shopping Centers’ expectation of a 4% to 5%, according to that organization’s monthly survey. An earlier-than-usual Easter and warm weather both helped chain stores’ performance.

Department stores were the best-performing sector in the survey, posting an 8.6% jump as a group. Kohl’s soared 16.8% and Nordstrom shot up 15%. The nation’s largest chain Federated Department Stores, lagged behind competitors, rising 2.3%.

Apparel chains, moving up 7%, fared much better than their 0.8% slide in February. The United Retail Group’s Avenue chain led the sector with an 11% hike, while Limited Brands and Claire’s stores both rose 8%. Gap Inc., which posted a monthly-average plunge of 4.7% last year, was up 6%.

Discount chains climbed 5% as a whole, as Target’s gain hit 12%. TJX Cos. chain gained 6%, while Wal-Mart lagged behind other chains in the sector, rising 3.4%. However, Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Clubs led the wholesale-club category with a 7.4% rise, beating out Costco’s 6% performance.

The Easter calendar shift is likely to hurt retailers for the month of April, as is the cold weather taking place so far this month, ICSC’s report says. The organization predicts a 1% same-store sales increase for the month.

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