Discount retailer

Big Lots

(BLI)

reported a decline in first-quarter earnings Wednesday, hurt in part by waning customer traffic. Nevertheless, the quarter's results surpassed analysts' estimates.

Earnings fell to $6.7 million, or 6 cents a share, from $10.2 million, or 9 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Analysts had been calling for 4 cents a share.

Soft sales trends in April hurt the quarter, despite total revenue rising 7.5% to $1.02 billion in the quarter. Big Lots had reported a 0.3% rise in April total sales to $306 million, while same-store sales fell 4.2% in the month.

Still, the company said sales at stores open at least two years increased 2.7% in the quarter, helped by strong consumables and furniture same-store sales.

"Customer transactions increased 0.1% for the quarter as economic concerns and unfavorable weather trends impacted our core customer during the quarter," the company said in a statement.

Gross margin in the period was 41.2% as a percent of sales.

"Clearly there is caution in the deep discount sector with the challenging economic environment. In particular, rising gas prices can impact our core customer in the short term," the company said. "However, we remain focused on our merchandising, store and supply chain initiatives."

Shares of the Columbus, Ohio-based company were moving up 33 cents, or 2.5%, at $13.57 in early Wednesday trading.