Luxury leading the way

NEW YORK -- Showing that luxury is experiencing measurable bounce in the recovering economy, the higher-end department stores led the same-store sales pack in March.

Saks outperformed the rest of the category, recording an 11.1% same-store sales increase during the month. Total sales rose 9.2% to $260.2 million, compared with $238.2 million in the year-ago period.

For March, the strongest categories at Saks Fifth Avenue stores included women’s designer collections and contemporary apparel, men’s apparel, women’s and men’s shoes, handbags, fashion jewelry and fragrances.

Nordstrom recorded a 5.1% same-store increase in March, surpassing Wall Street expectations for a much smaller 0.7% rise. While analysts had anticipated that the late Easter would shift some shopping from March to April, Nordstrom said that customers bought bigger-ticket items in March than a year earlier.

Macy’s reported a same-store sales rise of 0.9%. Online sales rose 34.8% in March.

“March sales exceeded our expectations and demonstrated that our spring fashion assortments are hitting the mark with customers,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s. “We generated same-store sales increases at both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, despite a calendar shift in which the pre-Easter period and a planned cosmetics promotion at Macy’s fall into April this year versus March last year,” he said.

JCPenney same-store sales dipped 0.3% in March, impac