CINCINNATI -- Operating earnings at the women's retail segment of U.S. Shoe Corp. plunged 53.9 percent to $11.7 million from $25.4 million in the fourth quarter.

Earnings in the recent quarter include a LIFO credit of $3.6 million compared with a credit of $6.6 million a year ago.

Sales were off 5.4 percent to $364 million from $385 million. Same-store sales inched up 1.3 percent.

For the year ended Jan. 29., the women's apparel segment lost $41.7 million against a year-ago operating profit of $12.1 million.

Sales dipped 3.6 percent to $1.2 billion from $1.3 million.

Reflecting $24 million in LIFO credits, the overall company reported earnings in the fourth quarter soared to $8.3 million, or 18 cents a share from $832,000, or 2 cents, a year ago.

Net earnings in the quarter included a previously announced $15 million pretax charge for consolidation of its three divisions. Sales dipped 2.8 percent to $669 million from $668 million. Comparable-store sales were up 0.8 percent.

For the year, U.S. Shoe reported a loss of $15.8 million against a profit of $4.4 million a year ago.

The loss included special charges related to the restructuring.

Sales were flat at $2.6 million. At end of 1993, the company operated 2,237 stores, a decrease of 9.4 percent from 1992.

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