Major retailers today blew away analysts' estimates for same-store sales for April. Bellwethers Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD), Macy's (NYSE: M), Dillard's (NYSE: DDS), TJX (NYSE: TJX), Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF), and Gap (NYSE: GPS) all announced same-store sales for April well above analysts' estimates.

Overall, the retailers' results are very positive, with the majority of reports exceeding even the optimistic forecasts for April consumer spending. Factors stated by retailers as affecting April's numbers include this year's Easter timing three weeks later in 2011 than in 2010, the recovering crisis in Japan, temperate weather, and stabilizing consumer confidence. Many companies are hopeful that next month's sales will continue to exceed expectations as consumers prepare for summertime and improving seasonal employment.

The best retailer report today was Limited Brands, which continues to prove its leadership in the industry in terms of sales momentum by reporting same-store sales growth of 20%. Limited Brands, which owns Victoria's Secret, reported same-store sales of 20% versus the Street estimate of 11.3%. This comes after a record-breaking prior quarter of same-store sales.

April same-store sales comps at Macy's came in at 10.8% versus the Street estimate of 8.1%.

Dillard's announced today that merchandise sales for the four weeks ended April 30 were $448,385,000, compared with sales for the four weeks ended May 1 of $406,334,000.

Gap reported April comps of 8.0% versus the Street estimate of -0.8%. The company guided Q1 earnings per share of $0.38-0.39 versus the $0.40 estimate.

Macy's April same-store sales were up 10.8% versus the Retail Metrics estimate of 8.3%. An analyst on CNBC explained that Macy's was catering to "a wider range of customer than they had before."

TJX reported April same-store sales of 5% versus the Street's 3.6% estimate.

Abercrombie & Fitch's April same-store sales came in at 10%.

Finally, Target (NYSE: TGT) reported April same-store sales comps of 13.1% versus the Street estimate of 13.2%.

Overall, today's reports reveal that the vast majority of retailers beat estimates. In general, April sales were stronger than most analysts had predicted.

Get a summary of March same-store sales.

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