LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Dillard's Inc. reported a $56 million loss in its third quarter earnings released Wednesday, as slumping sales and more price markdowns hurt the Little Rock-based department store chain struggling to bring in hesitant shoppers. Dillard's lost 76 cents per share for the quarter ending Nov. 1. During the same period a year ago, Dillard's reported a loss of $11.3 million or 15 cents per share. Net sales were down 7 percent compared with a year ago.
Total revenue was $1.546 billion, compared with $1.674 billion a year ago. "The oppressive economic environment clearly weighed heavily on our results during the third quarter," CEO William Dillard II said. "We continue to take aggressive action to navigate these challenging times." Last week, Dillard's announced it would lay off 500 people, including 60 at the company's headquarters in Little Rock. Dillard's closed 21 underperforming stores in 2008 and is reducing its capital spending, including a slowdown on new store openings. Dillard's opened 10 new stores in 2008; it plans just one new store in 2009 and two stores in 2010. "These efforts are not only designed to position ourselves to weather near-term economic uncertainty but also to position Dillard's well for the long term," Dillard said.
The company expects to save $100 million in operating expenses in 2008, and to save $70 million in 2009. Dillard's says it had $2.8 million in costs related to damage caused by Hurricane Ike in September. The company closed two stores in Texas City, Texas, because of the storm. It also closed six other stores in Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia In the third quarter, Dillard's opened stores in Wesley Chapel, Fla.; Anderson, S.C.; Pearland, Texas; and Kansas City. The company said it plans to close stores in Macon, Ga.; Oklahoma City and St. Ann, Mo.