AnnTaylor Stores Corporation reported Wednesday that comparable store sales for the four week period ended 31 August 2002 decreased 7.6 per cent.

By division, Ann Taylor store sales were down 8.7 per cent compared to an 8.2 per cent decrease last year, and the Ann Taylor Loft division saw a decrease of 5.4 per cent compared to an 11.8 per cent increase last year.

Total net sales increased 2.4 per cent to $88.61 million over total net sales of $86.51 million for the four week period ended 1 September 2001.

Chairman J Patrick Spainhour said: "For August we continued to experience a dramatic improvement in gross margin performance resulting from our tight inventory levels and continued acceptance of our merchandise offering. The total company achieved a 600 plus basis points increase in gross margin over the same period last year."

For the fiscal year-to-date period ended 31 August 2002, net sales totalled $777.15 million, up 10.4 per cent from $703.9 million for the same period in 2001. Comparable stores sales dropped 1.0 per cent from the same period last year.