Stage Stores Inc. reported that comparable store sales for the five-week period ended Oct. 4, 2003 decreased 3.8% as compared to the prior year five-week period ended Oct. 5, 2002, during which comparable store sales decreased 1.8%. Total sales increased 0.6% to $69.2 million from $68.8 million in the prior year period.

The Company stated that its shoe department had a comparable store sales increase during the month, and its accessories, children's, cosmetics, men's and misses sportswear departments performed better than the Company average.

Jim Scarborough, chairman, president and chief executive officer, commented, “Although our comparable store sales were still negative in September, we did achieve improvement in our performance as compared to last month. Sales benefited from the onset of cooler weather in many of our key market areas towards the end of the month, as our customers showed a heightened interest in our fall merchandise.”

Mr. Scarborough added, “On Oct. 2nd, we opened new stores in Austin, Dickinson, Kaufman, San Benito and Selma, Texas, as well as in Cut Off, Lafayette and Slidell, La. As a group, the opening day sales significantly exceeded our expectations and we continue to be pleased with their current pace of business. Including these 8, we have opened 20 new stores year-to-date. Looking ahead, we are currently planning to open an additional 5 new stores on Oct. 30th, and we plan to open our last 3 new stores of the fiscal year on Nov. 20th, bringing our total new store openings for fiscal 2003 to 28. On Oct. 4th, we closed one store located in Prescott, Ariz., which will be our only store closure for the fiscal year.”

                             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
       August            (7.3)       4.5            71.5         74.5
     September           (3.8)      (1.8)           69.2         68.8
  3rd Qtr-To-Date        (5.6)       1.4           140.7        143.3
    Year-To-Date         (5.6)       5.3           546.4        557.5