Retailers Report Gains in March

Many retailers are reporting big sales gains for March, helped by an earlier Easter and shoppers who loosened their pursestrings for spring merchandise.

As merchants report their results Thursday, warehouse-club operator Costco, Victoria's Secret parent Limited Brands Inc. and teen retailer Zumiez posted double-digit increases that beat Wall Street expectations.

Consumers are starting to spend more. But the figures are also helped because most Easter sales came in March, and the holiday came more than a week later last year. March 2009 was also when consumer frugality resulting from the financial meltdown and recession was near its deepest.

The figures for sales at stores open at least a year are an important measure of retailers' health.