The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. today added to the malaise department stores saw in the third quarter. The retailer, hurt by unseasonably warm weather and weak traffic trends, reported a net loss of $34 million, or $1.72 a diluted share, for the third quarter ended Oct. 31. That was about triple the loss of $11 million, or 57 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.
Comparable-store sales decreased 2.6 percent in the last quarter and the gross margin rate decreased 286 basis points to 33.4 percent of net sales.
Total sales in the quarter decreased 3 percent to $623.4 million, compared with $642.7 million in the third quarter of last year.
“Clearly, our third-quarter results were challenged as sales were pressured by unseasonably warm weather which significantly impacted our cold-weather classifications, and by the continued weakness in overall traffic trends,” said Kathryn Bufano, president and chief executive officer of the York, Pa., regional operator. Bufano added that customers responded strongly to the company’s expanded branded offerings.
“Looking ahead, we are not anticipating major changes in the retail environment in the near-term,” Bufano added. “Accordingly, we are pursuing a number of avenues to drive additional process improvements and further reduce expenses.”
The retailer is lowering capital spending and inventory levels and expecting to save $35 million in fiscal 2016. For fiscal 2015, Bon-Ton sees a loss of between $2.15 and $2.65 a diluted share and comparable-store sales declining 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent.