Chain store sales (search) fell in the fifth and final week of March, as storms hurt demand for spring apparel, a report said on Tuesday.

Sales in March to-date were down 0.7 percent compared with February. Sales at major retailers rose by 4.1 percent on a year-over-year basis for the week ended April 2, said Redbook Research (search), an independent company.

"Two weeks into Spring, wet and stormy weather dampened demand for apparel-intensive stores in comparison with more diversified retailers," Redbook said.

"As previously noted, the growth rate for March reflects an upward bias from the earlier placement of Easter this year," the report added.

The Redbook data are compiled from a sample of same-store sales at general merchandise retailers representing about 9,000 stores. Same-store sales measure revenue at stores open at least one year.