Women's plus-size apparel chain Charming Shoppes Inc suffered a sharp slide in first quarter net profit as sales slumped, it revealed on Thursday.

The Pennsylvania-based operator of 2,245 stores under banners such as Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherine's Plus Sizes, reported net income of $9.7 million, or eight cents per share, versus $17.3m, or 14 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Sales fell 11 per cent to $564m from $630m with same-store sales down six per cent.

It also revised its annual sales outlook to $2.3 billion with same-store sales seen down in the low single digits. The firm added it expects full year earnings of 26 to 28 cents a share and second quarter earnings of 12 to 14 cents a share.

Chairman, president and CEO, Dorrit Bern, said: "We continue to be affected by a weak economic environment, resulting in soft consumer demand for apparel. As a result, we did not meet our sales plan for the quarter, primarily attributable to lower traffic levels in our stores.

"We have been able to partially offset sales shortfalls to plan by focusing on and reducing our controllable expenses. Additionally, strong inventory management has led to improved merchandise margins at our Fashion Bug and Catherine's Plus Sizes brands.

"Our Lane Bryant brand continues to under-perform, as we continue to sell through Spring apparel assortments that have not met with customer acceptance."