Kohl's reports 3.6 percent jump in March sales

NEW YORK (AP) -- Kohl's Corp. said Thursday, April 5th that warmer weather and an earlier Easter helped boost sales in March by 3.6 percent at stores open at least a year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected an increase of 2.1 percent for the five-week period ending March 31. The metric is a key indicator of a company's health because it excludes the volatility of recently opened or closed stores.

In March of 2011, Kohl's sales at stores open at least a year had dropped 6.5 percent. Total sales for the month rose 5.3 percent to $1.82 billion, compared to a 4.9 percent drop a year ago.

CEO Kevin Mansell said the cold weather regions -- the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast -- had the strongest results for the month. Children's clothing was a standout performer while men's and women's clothing also did well.

Year to date, total sales increased 3.6 percent to $2.99 billion, and sales in stores open at least a year increased 1.8 percent.

Kohl's, based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., operates 1,134 department stores in 49 states. Its shares were down 95 cents to $51.03 in early trading.