The May Department Stores reported preliminary net sales of $902 million for April, 2004, a 6.8% decrease from $967 million in the similar period last year. Store-for-store sales decreased 8.1%. April store-for-store sales decreased 7.5%, excluding the remaining 19 stores that May previously announced it will divest.

Sales comparisons for April 2004 reflect the shift in the calendar with Easter occurring one week earlier this fiscal year and by the related movement of a major sales promotion event to the last week of March 2004 from the first week of April 2003. Combined March and April store-for-store sales increased 2.1%, excluding the 19 stores that May previously announced it will divest.

Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 were $2.96 billion, a 3.1% increase compared with $2.87 billion during the first quarter of fiscal 2003.

  Net sales were as follows:

                         Fiscal      Fiscal      Percent     Store-for-Store
                          2004        2003    Inc./(Dec.)      Inc./(Dec.)
  (dollars in millions)                                    Actual  Adjusted*

  April                  $901.5      $967.4       (6.8)%    (8.1)%   (7.5)%
  March/April           2,082.5     2,026.5        2.8       1.4      2.1
  First Quarter         2,962.9     2,872.6        3.1       1.7      2.5

* Excludes the remaining 19 stores that May previously announced it will divest.

Net sales include merchandise sales and lease department income. Store- for-store sales compare sales of stores open during both years beginning the first day a new store has prior-year sales and exclude sales of stores closed during both years.

Most merchandise categories were affected by the change in the April promotional calendar. Handbags, small leather goods, watches, and fashion accessories, however, continued to achieve strong sales increases. Ladies' footwear ranked among our best performers. Tailored sportswear, led by newness in jackets and skirts, as well as men's suit components and young men's apparel also were strong. Children's and home furnishings continued to lag overall store performance.

First quarter sales were led by a strong showing of new spring fashions, more tailored looks, and the importance of color. Handbags and small leather goods, led by the signature trend, costume jewelry, watches, and fashion accessories achieved strong sales increases. Ladies' footwear growth was particularly strong, fueled by fashion-right designer and higher-pricepoint dressier looks in pumps, strappy styles, sandals, and thongs. Genuine athletic and athletic-inspired looks were top sellers as well.

Newness, jackets, and skirts led the growth in tailored ladies' sportswear separates and suits. Juniors' and young men's apparel responded to this season's fashion trends and performed well. Men's clothing and dress furnishings outperformed the store based on the return to a more dressed-up look.

Dresses, children's, and home furnishings lagged overall store performance.