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Weather Weighs on Dept. Stores

Department store retailers posting first-quarter results Thursday said the cold spell in April had a negative impact on financial performance - especially with same-store sales.

Department store retailers posting first-quarter results Thursday said the cold spell in April had a negative impact on financial performance — especially with same-store sales.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. widened its first-quarter loss to $29.3 million, or $1.78 a diluted share, from a loss of $10.8 million, or 66 cents, for the same period last year. Sales for the quarter increased 31.3 percent to $737.6 million from $561.8 million last year, which included a same-store sales decline of 2.5 percent for its Bon-Ton stores and a 0.8 percent decrease at its Carson’s stores. The current quarter’s results included the first five weeks of the Carson Pirie Scott operation, which Bon-Ton acquired last year, results of which were not included in the year-ago figures. “We were comfortable with our performance in the first two months of the quarter and then the coldest April in 10 years hit, which had a substantial adverse impact on our sales results and put pressure on our margin dollars,” said Bud Bergren, president and chief executive officer of the company, in a statement.

Stein Mart Inc. posted a 7.3 percent increase in first-quarter earnings to $8.1 million, or 18 cents a diluted share, from $7.6 million, or 17 cents, in the prior-year period. Sales rose 3.1 percent to $376.1 million from $364.8 million, but comps fell by 2 percent in the period. “Following the earlier Easter and record cold weather in early April, we had hoped to see a stronger recovery, but our business is still underperforming our spring plan and we are concerned about the impact of a lower level of consumer spending going forward,” said Michael Fisher, president and ceo, in a statement.

Stage Stores Inc. said first-quarter earnings inched up 0.7 percent to $9.1 million, or 20 cents a diluted share, from $9 million, or 21 cents, in the same year-ago period. Sales rose 4.3 percent to $358.2 million from $343.5 million, while same-store sales rose 0.1 percent. The company said that unseasonably cool and rainy weather reduced demand for seasonal items.

This story first appeared in the May 25, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.