Macy's Inc. (M - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Wednesday, and reaffirmed its full-year guidance, as the struggling retailer notched a surprise uptick in same-store sales growth and saw solid gains from its push to online revenues.

Macy's said earnings for the three months ending in March came in at 44 cents per share, down 8.3% from the same period last year but 11 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, Macy's said, slipped to $5.504 billion and were just shy of analysts' estimates, but same-store sales rose 0.7% thanks in part to the group's Growth50 turnaround strategy.

Looking into 2019, Macy's said it sees same-store sales rising by 1% for the full year, with flat net revenues and diluted earnings per share in the region of $3.05 to $3.25, supported by about 25 cents per share in asset sale gains.

"Macy's is off to a solid start this year, delivering our sixth consecutive quarter of comparable sales growth and making progress against the North Star Strategy. As an omnichannel retailer, we are focused on growing our customer base by providing a great experience across all channels and taking market share category by category," said CEO Jeff Gennette. "Our brick & mortar sales trend improved sequentially in the first quarter, supported by the Growth50 stores and Backstage. We had another quarter of double-digit growth in our digital business, and mobile continues to be our fastest-growing channel."

"We are pleased with the progress we are making on our strategic initiatives as they continue to drive top-line growth, keeping us on track to reach our 2019 goals," Gennette added. "We believe these initiatives, coupled with productivity improvements, position our company well for long-term profit growth."

Macy's shares were marked 1% higher at the start of trading Wednesday following the earnings release to change hands at $22.14 each, with gains held back by a surprise 0.2% decline in April U.S. retail sales from the Commerce Department.