Stage Stores, Inc. reported that its total sales for the five-week March period through April 7 increased 14.9% to $151.0 million from $131.4 million in the prior year five-week March period ending April 1, 2006. Comparable store sales increased 12.4% versus a decrease of 3.9% last year.

Jim Scarborough, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are very pleased with our strong 12.4% comparable store sales increase for March. Had it not been for the severe impact that the winter weather conditions had on our business on Friday and Saturday, the two key selling days before Easter, we believe that our comparable store sales results for the month would have been even stronger. In general, our March sales results benefited from the combination of an earlier Easter calendar, as well as a greatly improved year-over-year sales performance at our Peebles division. Our sales increase was broad-based in nature, driven by higher sales of family apparel, accessories, cosmetics and shoes.

“Looking ahead, we believe that our comparable store sales results for April will be negatively impacted by the Easter calendar shift, and as a result, we anticipate that our April comparable store sales will be down versus last year. For the first quarter, we continue to project comparable store sales increases in the low to mid single digit range,” Mr. Scarborough concluded.