Stage Stores reported that total sales for the five-week period ended January 3, 2004 increased 46.6% to $211.5 million from $144.3 million in the prior year five-week period ended January 4, 2003. The Company noted that the sales growth during the month resulted primarily from the acquisition of Peebles Inc., as well as from the 32 net new stores that have been added since December of last year. Comparable store sales, which include results for the Peebles stores in both years, increased 1.2% as compared to the prior year's decrease of 4.6%.

The Company reported that the comparable store sales increase was
broad-based, with most merchandise categories increasing versus the
prior year. The only exceptions were home & gifts, intimates and

Jim Scarborough, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer,
commented, “We went into December with great merchandise assortments
and selections and with a strong promotional calendar. In spite of
winter storms in our northern and eastern markets, we are pleased that
our efforts resulted in a 1.2% comparable store sales increase and
solid performances in nearly every one of our merchandise categories.
Our shoe department was the strongest performing category during
December, leading the way with a high single-digit comparable store
sales increase.”

                             SALES SUMMARY

                  Comparable Store Sales Trend       Total Sales
                     % Increase (Decrease)         ($ in Millions)

  Fiscal Period       2003          2002           2003       2002
----------------- ------------------------   -------------------------
   1st Quarter        (7.5)%         7.0%        $198.0     $206.7
   2nd Quarter        (3.5)          6.5          207.7      207.5
   3rd Quarter        (7.1)          2.9          197.9      204.4
    November          (5.8)         (7.8)          96.1       71.4
    December           1.2          (4.6)         211.5      144.3
 4th Qtr-To-Date      (1.1)         (5.7)         307.6      215.7
  Year-To-Date        (4.5)          1.6          911.2      834.3