By and  on March 10, 2009

NEW YORK — Tightfisted consumers and rising costs may have pushed J. Crew Group Inc. to a $13.5 million loss in the fourth quarter, but the retailer still has cautious expansion in mind.

J. Crew posted a net loss of 22 cents a diluted share for the period ended Jan. 31, compared with net income of $25 million, or 39 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. Revenues declined 3 percent to $388 million from $399.9 million a year earlier and comp-store sales fell 13 percent. Retail sales slid 3.3 percent to $252 million, while direct sales were down 2.4 percent, to $123 million. Gross margins fell to 27.6 percent of sales from 41.3 percent due to increased markdowns and greater promotional activity during the quarter.

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