There were very few surprises when retailers reported their April sales figures this morning.

Leading the list of mild underperformers was Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), the country's largest retailer, whose April same-store sales were up 4.4%, marginally below the 4.5% expected by analysts. (Same-store sales figures measure results for stores that have been open at least a year.) Total sales for Wal-Mart rose 11.7% in April vs. the previous year.

While Wal-Mart's sales were in the ballpark of expectations, other discount and warehouse retailers sprinted through a brisk March and smacked into the wall that was April. Target (NYSE:TGT) was off the mark with its 4.9% same-store sales increase, which was below the expected 5.4% growth; the company also reported an 11.8% increase in total sales.

BJ's Wholesale Club (NYSE:BJ) and TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) had their doors swing open less than projected in April. BJ's reported a 5.4% same-store sales increase, which was far below the 6.6% expected. TJX logged a 5.0% increase, vs. 5.7% expected growth.

On the upside, same-store sales of 10% at Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Costco (NASDAQ:COST) slightly beat expectations, proving that all of those bulk products I purchased did make a difference to the company's top line.

The main thing you should take from the slightly disappointing April retail sales figures is that many of the retailers are still on track to meet or exceed their 2004 sales targets. I am always wary of the clothing-based specialty retailers and their faddish inventory base. Despite an April that proved to be less than exciting, the safer move is still to stick with more general retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco, and Target that produce a high product turnover rate on their broad array of offerings.

Tom Gardner recommended Costco for Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers. To learn more and to sign up for six months risk-free, just click here.

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent over 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firms mentioned above.