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And department-store chain Macy's, which has had solid results throughout the recession thanks to its focus on tailoring merchandise to different regions, reported a 4.6 percent increase, better than the 3.5 percent gain expected by analysts.

“We saw good consumer response to our early spring deliveries in women’s apparel, and continued strong trends in accessories, shoes, cosmetics, men’s and home, which bodes well for the months ahead,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy's in a statement.

Gap’s revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 4 percent in February. Analysts had expected a 1.4 percent drop. The figure was helped by strong demand for spring clothing at its Banana Republic chain, but the North American divisions of its namesake chain and Old Navy also enjoyed gains. Its international business had a decline.

Not all retailers enjoyed strong sales, though.

Midbrow department store chain Kohl’s had a 0.8 percent decline in revenue at stores opened at least a year. Analysts had expected the metric to be unchanged compared with a year ago. The sluggish performance followed a weak holiday period that forced the chain to discount deeply. However, Kohl’s also said that it was pleased with initial sales of its Rock & Republic brand, which launched during the month.