Stage Stores, Inc. reported that its total sales for the five week December period ended Jan. 3, 2009 decreased 1.3% to $257 million from $260.3 million in the prior year five week period ended Jan. 5, 2008. Comparable store sales decreased 4.9% versus a decrease of 7.1% last year.

With regard to its major categories of business for the month, the company reported that comparable store sales for cosmetics and mens were flat with last year. The company added that, while all regions were down during December, the Southwest was its best performing region and the Northeast and Southeast were its weakest performing regions.

                   Comparable Store Sales Trend        Total Sales
Fiscal Period     % Increase (Decrease)             $ in millions
                                 2008        2007     2008      2007
1st Quarter                 (5.4)%       0.1%   $353.5   $358.2 
2nd Quarter                 (1.4)         0.5       372.7      359.2 
3rd Quarter                 (10.3)       (1.0)     333.8      355.1 
    November                (8.0  )      3.6       124.4       130.7 
    December                (4.9  )      (7.1)     257.0       260.3 
4th Qtr-To-Date            (5.9  )      (3.9)     381.4       391.0 
Year-To-Date (11 Mos)   (5.7  )      (1.2)    1,441.4   1,463.5 


Andy Hall, President and CEO, said, “Despite increased promotional activity throughout December, we experienced significant weakness during the first three weeks of the month before a late surge in customer traffic and business in the final two weeks. We continue to conservatively manage our inventory levels and expenses in this challenging macroeconomic environment, and as we end December, we are pleased with our inventory position and content. From a liquidity perspective, we continue to expect our cash flow from operations for the fiscal year to exceed last year’s level, and we further strengthened our balance sheet as we ended December with no borrowings under our revolving credit facility.”