US clothing retailer Dress Barn recorded a drop in first quarter net earnings as its Dressbarn and Maurices outlets experienced mixed fortunes during the period.

Net sales for the three months ended 27 October edged up 1.5% to US$363.7m on the back of the opening of new stores, but were offset by a 3% decrease in same store sales.

Net earnings fell to $19.6m from $27.4m in the same period last year. Dressbarn sales fell 6% to $228.2m, but sales at Maurices rose 16.5% to $135.5m.

Dress Barn president and CEO David Jaffe said he was "particularly pleased" with the performance of Maurices, but added that Dressbarn had been hit by the warm autumn and more cautious consumer spending.

"As a result, we have increased promotional activity to reduce seasonal inventory," he added.

"There has been some recent improvement in the sales trend of our Dressbarn stores towards the end of the quarter, but we expect an increased promotional retail environment for much of this holiday season."

Dress Barn reaffirmed its fiscal 2008 earnings per share guidance of $1.25-1.35, based on estimated same-store sales increases in the low single digits.