Target Corp. said Thursday a key sales figure rose 1.1 percent in April, but it fell short of analysts' expectations.

Analysts expected the discount retailer to post a 2.8 percent increase in stores opened at least one year, according to Thomson Reuters. That metric is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Total sales during the four-week period ended April 28 rose 2 percent to $4.98 billion. The company says sales of Easter-related categories like candy and apparel were hurt by Easter occurring two weeks earlier this year, pushing some sales into March.

During the month people spent more per transaction, but the number of transactions fell slightly.

Target's strongest categories remained food, health and beauty. The strongest regions for it were the Midwest and West.

First-quarter sales rose 6 percent to $16.54 billion, slightly below analysts' expectations of $16.83 billion, according to FactSet.

Still, the Minneapolis discounter said revenue in stores open at least a year rose 5.3 percent during the first quarter, the strongest performance in six years for that period.

In May the company expects a low- to mid-single-digit percent increase in revenue in stores open at least one year.

Target shares fell $1.28, or 2.2 percent, to $56.70 in premarket trading.