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“This says we need to be cautious. This signals that some of the worry about rising gas prices is indeed impacting sales,” he said.

Gasoline has increased for 43 days straight, hitting a national average of $3.982 per gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Pump prices have risen 91 cents per gallon since the beginning of the year.

Prices also are rising for such foods as dairy and meat. Clothing stores are expected to pass on higher prices to shoppers starting this summer, though cotton shirts and underwear are already more expensive.

In recent weeks, Kohl’s and other major department store have cut orders for fall because they worry shoppers may resist price increases.

Rising unemployment applications and other weak economic data this week have prompted some analysts to fear that higher fuel prices may be causing employers to slow hiring.

Costco’s revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 12 percent in April. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted an 8.9 percent increase. Removing the impact of higher gas prices and strengthening foreign currencies, revenue at stores open at least a year gained 7 percent in April.

Target reported a 13.1 percent increase in revenue at stores opened at least a year. Analysts had expected a 13.2 percent. The gain, however, was below the discounter’s own internal target, which called for an increase in the midteens.

Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target, said low prices are becoming more important as shoppers face “increasing pressure on their household budgets due to higher energy costs and increasing prices of food, apparel and home merchandise.”

Limited Brands Inc., which operates Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, raised its earnings outlook Thursday and said revenue grew 20 percent in April at stores open at least a year. The figure was much better than the 12 percent increase analysts had predicted.

Among department stores, Macy’s reported a better-than-expected 10.8 percent gain for April as shoppers picked up new spring attire. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. posted a 6.4 percent gain, but it was below the 8.5 percent increase Wall Street expected.