NEW YORK -- Despite robust sales during the Thanksgiving weekend, Dillard Department Stores and The Bon-Ton Stores reported that same-store sales for November overall were weak.

Both chains blamed the performance on continued warm weather and a lack of consumer interest in apparel.

Dillard's said Wednesday that same-store sales rose 3 percent during the month and total sales rose 6 percent to $449.9 million from $426.3 million. Dillard's performance fell below the expectations of Thomas Tashjian, analyst at First Manhattan, who estimated same-store sales would gain 5 percent. While the chain's sales for most of the year have been better, rising 5 percent on a comparable-store basis for the nine-months ended Oct. 29, Dillard's profits have been squeezed by higher markdowns and intense competition this year.

At The Bon-Ton Stores, based in York, Pa., same-store sales increased just 1.2 percent. Total sales grew 68.9 percent to $68.4 million from $40.5 million due to recent acquisitions including six Chappell & Sons units in the Syracuse, N.Y., area last October. "Following the October sales trend, this month's continued warm weather impacted our apparel sales once again, resulting in comparable-store increases that did not meet our expectations," said Michael L. Gleim, senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Gleim also noted that The Bon-Ton "did not meet sales plans at the newly acquired stores." However, he added that at the core stores, sales were up in cosmetics, intimates and home furnishings.

The results were particularly disappointing in light of the solid figures reported by Federated Department Stores on Tuesday. The company said its same-store sales rose 6.2 percent and that total sales rose 9.7 percent to $768 million from $701 million.

Most major retailers will report November results today.  - Fairchild News Service

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