because we have a whole host debate about Abortion of initiatives that have been unfolding. We continue to make significant progress on our standard to small initiatives. He is the author and inventor of more than 50 scientific publications and.S. In addition to our continuing positive comp sales trend, we drove a 50 basis point increase in gross margin over the prior period. So proactively the team's really leaned in from a product standpoint into home, footwear and active. Our strategies are gaining traction and we have momentum.
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So I'm very, very pleased with the result, and we're seeing that momentum continue. Last Wednesday, our Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend.61 per share. As I mentioned in my comments I think even going into typically this time of year can be a little bit more volatile. The companies combined capabilities will support greater productivity while utilizing the planets finite resources more precisely. Depreciation expense was 243 million for the quarter, up 5 million over last year's first quarter. Digital was especially strong with an increase. The Department of Commerce's May retail sales report indicated that sales rose.1 year over year at department stores last month - compared to.6 decline in April - while sales at clothing stores soared.9.