By and  on November 17, 2008

Double-digit declines in earnings and same-store sales are becoming nearly routine for retailers as the third-quarter earnings season commences.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on Friday both qualified for the dubious distinction on Friday. While Penney’s won plaudits for its investment in fresh merchandising and A&F for its attention to the long-term integrity of its brands, neither was able to stave off sharp declines in third-quarter profitability. Penney’s earnings were down 52.5 percent in the quarter as comps receded 10.1 percent and it cut full-year expectations. A&F’s net was off 45.7 percent and comps were down 14 percent as the retailer issued full-year guidance well below Wall Street estimates based on expectations of a 26 percent drop in fourth-quarter comps.

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