Leading retailer of women's apparel, Charming Shoppes Inc, today recorded a fourth quarter loss before unusual items despite a 49 per cent surge in seasonal sales.

The Pennsylvania-based company posted a $3.3 million loss, or three cents a share, for the period ended February 2, compared to a profit of $9.1m, or nine cents a share, in the year-ago period, as it had to resort to heavy markdowns.

Taking into account a $37.5m restructuring charge for the axing of its Added Dimensions and Answer clothing chain and the shuttering of 130 unprofitable Fashion Bug stores, the fourth quarter net loss was $27.8m, or 25 cents a share.

Seasonal sales climbed 49 per cent to $647.1m from last year as they were boosted by the addition of Lane Bryant, although sales at stores open at least a year slipped three per cent.

In a statement, the company said it expected its earnings for the first quarter to be up slightly from the year-ago period at around nine cents a share, with same-store sales expected to be down slightly.