U.S. retailers had to pull out some big same-store sales gains in March if they were to demonstrate that the sector was returning to serious growth mode.  The Easter calendar shift and incredibly weak base year platform meant that retailers not scoring big enough to achieve a positive two-year "stack" (i.e. a positive number for the sum of growth in March 2009 and March 2010) were still clearly struggling.

Of the specialty retailers, Aeropostale, Buckle, Gap's Old Navy, Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works were the standouts while Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap and Gap's Banana Republic underperformed.  The two-year stack for specialty apparel as a whole was a dismal -3.4%.

The discount sector continued to be terrific with a +9.4% stack and TJX leading the way.

The department store sector failed to impress and even if you include Kohl's, which I think belongs much more in the discount group alongside Target, department stores had a two-year stack of 

As always during the Easter season it will be very important to wait for April results to come in and aggregate them with those for March before being able to make a reasonable assessment of where things might be headed.