By  on May 25, 2007

Department store retailers posting first-quarter results Thursday said the cold spell in April had a negative impact on financial performance — especially with same-store sales.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. widened its first-quarter loss to $29.3 million, or $1.78 a diluted share, from a loss of $10.8 million, or 66 cents, for the same period last year. Sales for the quarter increased 31.3 percent to $737.6 million from $561.8 million last year, which included a same-store sales decline of 2.5 percent for its Bon-Ton stores and a 0.8 percent decrease at its Carson's stores. The current quarter's results included the first five weeks of the Carson Pirie Scott operation, which Bon-Ton acquired last year, results of which were not included in the year-ago figures. "We were comfortable with our performance in the first two months of the quarter and then the coldest April in 10 years hit, which had a substantial adverse impact on our sales results and put pressure on our margin dollars," said Bud Bergren, president and chief executive officer of the company, in a statement.

Stein Mart Inc. posted a 7.3 percent increase in first-quarter earnings to $8.1 million, or 18 cents a diluted share, from $7.6 million, or 17 cents, in the prior-year period. Sales rose 3.1 percent to $376.1 million from $364.8 million, but comps fell by 2 percent in the period. "Following the earlier Easter and record cold weather in early April, we had hoped to see a stronger recovery, but our business is still underperforming our spring plan and we are concerned about the impact of a lower level of consumer spending going forward," said Michael Fisher, president and ceo, in a statement.

Stage Stores Inc. said first-quarter earnings inched up 0.7 percent to $9.1 million, or 20 cents a diluted share, from $9 million, or 21 cents, in the same year-ago period. Sales rose 4.3 percent to $358.2 million from $343.5 million, while same-store sales rose 0.1 percent. The company said that unseasonably cool and rainy weather reduced demand for seasonal items.

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