• Q3 net loss up 16% to US$23.8m
  • Net sales slump by 17.9% to $154.5m
  • Comparable store sales down 16.8%

A double-digit sales decline and falling margins sent retailer Coldwater Creek to a deeper loss in the third quarter, the company said.

Retail sales were down 18% to US$120.7m in the three months to 2 November, while direct sales fared a little better, declining 17.6% to $33.7m.

Gross margin rate fell 390 basis points to 31.2%, the US company said, thanks to the deleveraging of buying and occupancy expense, and lower merchandise margins reflecting increased promotional activity.

After adjustments, the net loss figure was even worse, rising 77% to $24.2m.

"In response to the disappointing performance of our fall merchandise, we took swift action early in the third quarter to adjust our holiday assortment, and we experienced a meaningful improvement in full-priced selling as holiday product flowed into stores starting in mid-October," said Jill Dean, Coldwater Creek president and CEO.

She also highlighted the company's cost reduction programme, which she said was expected to generate savings of $20-25m next year.

"While we are encouraged by the favourable customer response to recent deliveries, the holiday selling season is still under way and the environment remains highly competitive," Dean added.