Business

Cato’s March sales get a boost from early Easter

Charlotte-based fashion retailer Cato said March sales got a boost from the early timing of Easter this year compared with the mid-April timing last year. In this March photo, demolition continues on former Charlotte Knights stadium site in For Mill that Cato said it plans to build a distribution center in the 32-acre space.
Charlotte-based fashion retailer Cato said March sales got a boost from the early timing of Easter this year compared with the mid-April timing last year. In this March photo, demolition continues on former Charlotte Knights stadium site in For Mill that Cato said it plans to build a distribution center in the 32-acre space. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

At least one area retailer is seeing a rebound in sales after cold temperatures kept many shoppers home during the first part of the year.

Charlotte fashion retailer Cato Corp. said sales for the five-week period ending April 4 rose to $177 million, a 15 percent increase over the same period in 2014. In stores open at least a year, sales rose 12 percent.

The company said March sales got a boost from the early timing of Easter this year (April 5) compared with last year (April 20.)

“We expect April sales will be unfavorably impacted. Because of this shift, the best measure for performance is the combined sales for the two months,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Cato’s March sales showed a rebound from February, when sales totaled $80.5 million.

John Cato, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said earnings for the first quarter will be in the range of $1 to $1.03 a share. That would be down from earnings of $1.04 a share the company reported for the first quarter last year.

The company recently said the harsh winter weather at the start of this year will likely weigh on its first quarter and full-year financial results.

In March, Cato opened two stores and closed one. As of April 4, the company operated 1,349 stores in 32 states, compared with 1,322 stores in 32 states at the same time last year. Demolition recently began on the former Charlotte Knights baseball stadium to make way for a new Cato distribution center in Fort Mill, S.C.

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