By  on February 5, 2008

DALLAS — Neiman Marcus is still cleaning up from a tough first quarter.

Sales associates in some key Neiman's stores began calling customers Monday to inform them of a consolidation sale running Thursday to Sunday.

Leftover fall and holiday goods will be discounted 25 to 30 percent from the markdown prices of Last Call, the clearance sale that ended Jan. 29. The associates will begin "preselling" the goods today, inviting shoppers to reserve sale merchandise that can be picked up Thursday, when the promotion officially begins.

Neiman Marcus officials weren't available for comment. In December, however, Burt Tansky, Neiman Marcus Group Inc. chairman, chief executive officer and president, said during a conference call, "We were a little more aggressive [in buying] than we normally are. It didn't come together so we are going to get back into balance and we are moving quickly to do so.''

Neiman's, weathering overstocks, a highly promotional season and the challenging economy, posted first-quarter earnings and sales gains. But higher markdowns contributed to a gross margin decline of 50 basis points, and there were some buying mistakes and tepid consumer reaction to European designer collections generally.

Typically, Neiman's doesn't promote additional markdowns after Last Call, when prices are reduced as much as 65 percent. But the company scheduled Last Call in a different way this year, holding it in all 39 stores at the same time. Neiman's usually starts its fall clearance in its southern stores and then ships leftover goods into northern units that have a longer selling period for fall goods.

Stores participating in the consolidation sale include: NorthPark Center in Dallas; Houston Galleria; Beverly Hills; Atlanta; San Francisco; Chicago, and White Plains, N.Y.

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