US retail giant Wal-Mart today (Thursday) said it expects sales growth for the first quarter, which runs to the end of April, to be at the low end of its predicted 3% to 5% range.

"With two months completed in the fiscal quarter, we now estimate earnings will come in around the low end of our previous estimate of $0.56 to $0.58 per share," the company said in a statement. "Given the shift in Easter and the unseasonable weather, we now estimate comparable sales [growth] in the US for the April period to be in the 0 to 2% range."

Sales for the five weeks ended 1 April 2005 were up 11.3% at $27.976bn. Sales for the nine weeks ended 1 April were up 11.2% at $50.344bn.