March was a good month for the nation's retailers. Major chains posted a 4.3 percent sales increase in March compared with the same month a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations of a more modest 3.5 percent rise, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The top-performing chains were a mixture of high-end and moderately-priced chains. Zumiez Inc. enjoyed the highest increase with a 14.1 percent bump. Ross Stores Inc. and TJX Cos. both reported 10 percent increases, and even Gap Inc., which has been struggling in the last year, beat expectations, jumping 8 percent.

About 59 percent of retailers beat expectations, according to the story. Warm weather and an earlier Easter may have contributed to the gains, analysts said.

"There has been a pull forward of early spring spending that might normally take place in April," Ken Perkins, a retail expert at Retail Metrics Inc., said in the story. "That means April will be weak. But beyond that, there are good signs going forward."

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