NEW YORK — Two specialty retailers reported December comparable-store sales ahead of the pack last week, and although the results were not good, they were not unexpected.

This story first appeared in the January 5, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As forecast, Christopher & Banks Corp.’s December same-store sales dropped 7 percent. Dress Barn Inc. said comps dipped 1 percent.

C&B’s December same-store sales marked the third consecutive month of declining comps for the specialty retail chain. The firm last recorded positive same-stores in September when they gained 3 percent. For the 12 months of the calendar year, C&B posted same-store sales deceases in seven months and comped up in five. July’s 6 percent improvement was the company’s strongest month for comps, while February showed the weakest results with a 10 percent same-store sales plunge.

December comps were in line with C&B’s Dec. 23 guidance, at which time chief executive officer Bill Prange said business had been hurt by snowstorms in many of its market areas and intense competition in apparel retailing. The company estimated it lost 2 to 3 percent of its sales because of the storms, and forecast a 3 to 6 percent decline in fourth-quarter comps.

However, C&B’s total sales for the four-week period ended Dec. 27 grew 8 percent to $51.4 million from $47.8 million a year ago, the Minneapolis-based firm said last week, while total sales for the year-to-date advanced 17 percent to $341.8 million from $291.2 million in the prior year. Comps for the 10-month period regressed 1 percent.

Meanwhile, Dress Barn’s 1 percent same-store sales decline caused it to finish the calendar year with eight months of negative comps, three months of positive comps and one month when comps were unchanged.

The Suffern, N.Y.-based retailer said total sales for the five weeks ended Dec. 27 increased 2 percent to $81.2 million from $79.7 million a year ago.

The bulk of retailers will report December same-store sales results Thursday.