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Shoe Carnival gets cold feet in Q4

Bad weather and a tepid economy claimed another retail victim on Thursday as family footwear retailer Shoe Carnival posted weak sales and profits.

The operator of 379 stores said sales during its 13 week fourth quarter ended February 1 fell to $200.3 million compared to $205.7 million during the 14 week fourth quarter the prior year. Same store sales declined 2.5%. Profits during the period fell more sharply to $600,000, or three cents a share, from $3.2 million, or 13 cents a share the prior year, as gross margins contracted to 28.5% from 29.3%.

“Unfavorable weather in the fourth quarter negatively impacted our customer traffic, and consequently, our sales and earnings results,” said Shoe Carnival president and CEO Cliff Sifford. “In particular, robust traffic and sales in November were followed by significant declines in traffic and sales in December and January. Despite this tough sales environment, we ended fiscal 2013 with inventories in excellent shape and believe we are well positioned with the right assortment of family footwear at the right price to capitalize on the Easter selling season.”
Despite his optimism, same store sales are expected to be flat to down 3.5% and profits to be roughly in line with the prior year.

“While general consumer economic uncertainty keeps our outlook conservative for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, our Shoe Carnival team remains committed to managing the controllable aspects of our business to best position us for future growth as consumer spending begins to improve,” Sifford said. “We believe the April launch of our spring creative on national cable television will increase Shoe Carnival brand awareness in new and existing markets and will help to drive customer traffic to our stores and website.”

The company opened 32 new stores and closed seven last year. This year, the company said it expects to open between 30 and 35 stores and close only one location.
 

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