More robust sales figures for Dillard's in its fourth-quarter were offset by a fairly flat year, analysts have said, continuing a long-run trend of “anaemic growth” for the apparel group.

Net income for the 13 weeks ended 31 January amounted to US$130.5m from $119.1m a year earlier. The result included an after-tax gain of $0.8m representing the reversal of asset impairment charges on a store held for sale.

A 3% comparable store sales increase in the quarter to $2.14bn was supported by a 103 basis point retail gross margin improvement, thanks to fewer markdowns.

Sales trends were notably strong in the ladies' apparel and shoes categories followed by juniors' and children's apparel.

For the full year, earnings were up 2.5% to $331.9m, while sales grew 1.4% to $6.62bn.

Neil Saunders, CEO of Conlumino, said: “Despite a slightly more robust set of sales numbers for the fourth quarter, Dillard's has had a fairly flat year with both overall and same store merchandise sales increasing by just 1%. This continues a long run trend of growth that can, at best, be described as anaemic.”