NEW YORK — A quartet of specialty retailers Tuesday reported sizzling June sales, with some even boosting their second-quarter forecasts.

Chico’s FAS and Pacific Sunwear posted double-digit comparable-store sales gains for June, up 15 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively. Charming Shoppes saw June comps rise 5 percent. Citing brisk sales of full-priced merchandise, J. Jill Group said it estimates earnings to run well ahead of Wall Street’s forecasts.

Jennifer Black, retail analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, put the first batch of June results in a long-term context: "Specialty stores will continue to gain market share from department stores." Specialists, she noted, are doing a better job at making the shopping experience easier for time-starved consumers and are more focused on the attitudes and desires of their core consumers.

Chico’s, based in Fort Myers, Fla., reported yet another comp gain in June, this time 15 percent on total sales that improved 42 percent to $46.5 million. Sales were up more than 40 percent during the third week of the five-week month because of a "secret sale" for Chico’s Passport members.

Pacific Sunwear of California reported a 10.5 percent increase in June comps, comprised of a 10.5 percent comp increase at PacSun stores and 10.3 percent comp gain at Demo.

"At PacSun, our footwear business remained very strong with a 17 percent comparable-store sales increase. Our girls’ business was also strong and achieved a 1 percent comparable-store sales increase, while accessories achieved a slightly positive same-store sales increase," Greg Weaver, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

With a 12 percent jump, PacSun’s men’s business had its first comp gain in 17 months, he noted. In addition, new brands and initiatives have been well received.

Based on June sales’ results and the assumption of flat same-store sales this month, the company said it now expects second-quarter earnings to be 18 cents a share, exceeding both current consensus earnings per share estimates of 15 cents and the 11 cents recorded in last year’s quarter.

Bensalem, Pa.-based Charming Shoppes, the nation’s leading specialty retailer of plus sizes, said June sales rose 5 percent and it reaffirmed earnings and growth plans for the fiscal 2003 year. The retailer said it expects EPS in the range of 41 to 43 cents, versus 19 cents before restructuring charges in 2002. With comps in the low-single digit range, total sales are expected to be roughly $2.45 billion.The J. Jill Group, based in Quincy, Mass., said that due to reduced promotions and strong full-price selling, it expects second-quarter EPS to run between 28 to 30 cents, versus current consensus estimates of 18 cents and 14 cents for the same period last year. It also said it expects sales to increase between 15 and 20 percent for the rest of 2002 and EPS to range from 99 cents to $1.03, compared to 70 cents last year.

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