Stage Stores, Inc. reported that comparable store sales for the four-week period ended May 3, 2003 increased 3.6% as compared to the prior year four-week period ended May 4, 2002. Total sales increased 7.7% to $65.5 million from $60.8 million in the prior year period.

The Company further reported that its April comparable store sales increase was driven by positive sales performances in its accessories, children’s, dresses, home & gifts, men’s and shoes departments.

For the first quarter, the Company reported that comparable store sales decreased 7.5%, while total sales decreased 4.2% to $198.0 million from $206.7 million last year.

Jim Scarborough, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “As expected, our April sales results benefited from the calendar shift in the Easter holiday. However, while we did achieve the low end of our projected sales range, our merchandise margins were below plan as we remained focused on driving sales and managing our inventory levels in light of the current difficult retail environment. As a result, we currently expect net income for the first quarter to be slightly below our previously provided low-end estimate of $13.8 million, or $0.71 per diluted share. Looking ahead, in the near term, we anticipate continuing sluggishness in the retail sector due to lingering weak economic conditions.”

                             SALES SUMMARY

                  Comparable Store Sales Trend       Total Sales
                     % Increase (Decrease)         ($ in Millions)
                  ----------------------------  ---------------------
  Fiscal Period        2003          2002        2003           2002
  -------------       -------       -------     -------        ------
     February          (7.6)%         6.2%        $59.5         $62.5
      March           (15.6)         14.2          73.0          83.4
      April             3.6          (1.0)         65.5          60.8
   1st Quarter         (7.5)%         7.0%       $198.0        $206.7

During April, the Company completed the remodeling of its store in Gainesville, Texas and its store in Natchitoches, Louisiana, as well as one of its three stores in Shreveport, Louisiana. During the second quarter, the Company plans to open four new stores and complete the remodeling of four more stores.