Unseasonably warm autumn weather affected third-quarter sales of higher-priced autumn and winter goods at retailer Stage Stores.

The company saw net income for the three months ended 3 November fall to US$2.4m from $2.8m in the same period last year. Sales edged up from $353.4m to $355.1m, but same-store sales fell 1%.

Plus sizes and dresses were two of the company's best-performing categories during the period, Stage Stores said. "We achieved sales and earnings that were in line with our expectations, despite the challenges presented by the unseasonably warm weather throughout much of the third quarter," said Stage Stores chairman and CEO Jim Scarborough. "One of the consequences of the persistently warm weather was a reduction in the demand for our higher-priced fall and winter goods, which resulted in an unfavourable merchandise sales mix for the quarter."

However, the company had kept a tight rein on operating expenses, Scarborough added, and it was happy with merchandise and inventories going into the holiday shopping period.

Stage Stores is predicting fourth-quarter sales of $483-495m and net income of $33.8-36.1m, which would give full-year sales of $1.56-1.57bn and net income of $55.2-57.5m.