Spring Retail Sales Bloom

According to the National Retail Federation, March retail sales increased 0.8 percent from February and 6.6 percent year-over-year. In a press release, Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, said consumers are demonstrating the intent and ability to spend on discretionary items. Specifically, clothing and accessories sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Other categories that saw moderate growth are furniture and home furnishings, spring goods, books and music.

"Yo Gabba Gabba!" Expands its Toy Line

Wildbrain Entertainment and its hit preschool show "Yo Gabba Gabba!" sealed a deal with Jazwares for an expanded toy line, including items like accessories, plush, play sets, vehicles and musical toys that will be available beginning next spring.

The Smiley Company Introduces Girls' Sleepwear

The Smiley Company is teaming up with intimate apparel brand Panties Plus to create a line of girls' underwear and sleepwear for the SmileyWorld brand in the U.S. and Canada.

The collection will include three themes-rockstar, "it" girls and emotions-and will be made up of PJ sets, shorts, vests, robes and nightshirts.

Gap Perks up the Interest of Shoppers and Wall Street Alike

Stock price of apparel chain Gap Inc. has surged 37 percent to $25.48 this year through Thursday after hitting a 10-year closing high on March 26.

Analysts are raising their price targets to $28 and higher, levels not seen since the company began to lose its footing in 2001.

The turnaround comes as U.S. same-store sales rose 3.9 percent in March, beating the estimate for a 3.3 percent gain.

Armani Junior Opens First U.S. Shop on Madison Avenue

Italian fashion house Armani will open an Armani Junior store on the corner of New York City's Madison Avenue and 88th Street, according to brokers at Prudential Douglas Elliman's retail group, who negotiated the lease on the 1,480 square-foot storefront.

The upscale children's line for newborns, tots and tweens will join a number of other children's fashion retailers lining Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side: In the past 18 months J. Crew's Crewcuts, Brooks Brothers Children and Pink Chicken have joined the area's established stores.

ABC Kids Expo Accepting Applications for Specialty Areas

ABC Kids Expo is accepting applications until April 30 from manufacturers who would like to exhibit in the fall Modern Child or Naturally Kids pavilions.

The show is set for October 14-17 in Louisville, KY, and organizers are reworking the specialty areas to ensure that products meet specific criteria.

For more information, go to www.theabcshow.com

Wittlebee Raises $2.5 Million Seed Funding

Monthly kids clothing club Wittlebee recently received $2.5 million in funding. CEO and founder Sean Percival said the funding would be used to invest in its executive team and to create a line of private-label clothing to keep up with growing customer demand. Backed by technology studio Science Inc., the children's clothing monthly membership service launched less than two months ago, but is said to experienced accelerated growth, in part of Science's track record of quickly scaling ecommerce. 

My Little Pony Bows Online Design Studio

Toy giant Hasbro has teamed up with FashionPlaytes, an online clothing design experience, to launch a My Little Pony design studio e-commerce experience for girls. In the only design studio, kids can create their own unique fashions and have them produced as real-life clothing and accessories. The My Little Pony design studio will offer a variety of customizable apparel and accessory options, including dresses, tops, bottoms and bags. 

HSN Buys Kids’ Clothing E-tailer Chasing Fireflies

Multi-channel retailer HSN Inc. has acquired e-commerce site Chasing Fireflies though its operating segment Cornerstone Brands. The purchase price was not disclosed but HSN said the Seattle-based company (which offers apparel, gifts and accessories for children and babies) had $39 million in revenue last year. Co-founders Dina Alhadeff, Amy Grealish and Lori Liddle will continue to run business and oversee day-to-day operations while working closely with the Cornerstone team, led by CEO Mark Ethier, to drive growth.