By  on March 8, 2007

NEW YORK — With a late-winter freeze chilling demand for spring apparel, February same-store sales lagged despite a few bright spots.

According to data tracked by WWD, the specialty sector average for the month fell 0.6 percent, dragged down by declining sales at Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, bebe, Christopher & Banks, Gap, Chico's, Hot Topic and Old Navy, among others. Flat sales were reported at Banana Republic, Dress Barn and Cato. However, sales were up 12.4 percent at Zumiez and other top performers included Walgreen, up 8.6 percent; Buckle, up 7.8 percent; Limited Brands, up 7 percent, and American Eagle, up 6 percent.

Mass merchants fared slightly better than specialty, posting a 1.9 percent average increase in sales at stores open at least a year. Target posted a 5.7 percent increase, although Wal-Mart disappointed, turning in a 0.4 percent increase at its discount stores.

Department stores continued to benefit from the security of the luxury consumer base, posting an average sector increase of 4.7 percent, according to WWD data. Saks Fifth Avenue surged ahead with a 24.7 percent rise. Bon-ton reported a 14.6 percent increase and Nordstrom was up 9.1 percent over last year. Federated increased 1.2 percent. Other stores, including Dillard’s, Gottschalks, and J.C. Penney didn’t fare as well, posting declining same-store sales.

For complete coverage see tomorrow's issue of WWD.

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