Boosted by Easter sales, retailers likely had a good April, but the greening of the retail sector may not be at hand. Many retailers are slated to report their same-store sales for April on Thursday. Many will likely show big gains compared to last year. But those numbers may be a bit misleading. With Easter falling in April this year, compared with March last year, many sales may have simply shifted from one month to another. Meanwhile, the slow sales in February and March could weigh heavily on many retailers' bottom lines for the first quarter. And retail analysts don't see much hope for a turnaround anytime soon. "I think it's going to be very difficult to improve bottom-line profitability all this year," said Britt Beemer, chairman and founder of America's Research Group. For the most part, the big retailers have been struggling for months. After a slow holiday season, retailers have continued their slow sales into 2003. Retail sales in February, for instance, posted a substantial sequential decline. Although overall sales rebounded in March, individual stores that release their monthly same-store sales figures largely reported disappointing sales results. Same-store sales, which compare results at outlets open more than one year, are widely used to forecast a retailer's performance and its market share changes. ShopperTrak on Tuesday estimated that retail sales grew by 7.4% on an annual basis in April. But combined with March, retail sales grew by just 3.1% over that two-month period, ShopperTrak said. That's far off the pace of a year ago, when retail sales in the combined March-April period grew by 6% on an annual basis. The disappointing sales results already have started to take a toll. In the last three months, retailers including Target ( TGT), Sears ( S), Safeway ( SWY) and Best Buy ( BBY) have warned that their earnings won't meet analysts' expectations or their earlier projections.