Foot Locker, the New York-based specialty athletic retailer, has swung to a second quarter loss after reporting slower sales and higher markdowns as it tried to clear inventory to make way for autumn merchandise.

The company, which is the largest athletic-shoe retailer by sales in the US, is currently "evaluating strategic alternatives" including a sale, after failing to buy footwear firm Genesco earlier this year.

It said second quarter net loss widened to $18m, or $0.12 per share, compared to a net income of $14m, or $0.09 per share, in last year's quarter.

Sales in the three months to 4 August fell 1.5% to $1.3bn. Same-store sales dropped 7.3%.

Matthew D Serra, Foot Locker's chairman and CEO, said the retailer's inventory clearance "resulted in markdowns increasing in our US stores by $50m, at cost, or $0.20 per share, versus the second quarter of last year.

"As a result, we are now better positioned to offer more exciting and compelling products for the fall season."

He added that profit at its international stores rose by around 20% year-on-year.

For the first six months of the year, the company reported a net loss of $1m, or $0.01 per share, compared with net income of $73m, or $0.47 per share, last year. Year-to-date sales decreased 2.6% to $2.6bn compared with last year, while same-store sales fell 6.2%.

The company operates 3,905 stores in 20 countries in North America, Europe and Australia, and has seven franchised stores in the Middle East. It plans to close 135 to 150 unproductive stores in the second half of the fiscal year.

The company is not providing a financial forecast for the balance of the year, blaming "the uncertainty of several factors that may affect our financial results," - including the current challenging athletic retail environment in the US and incremental costs associated with the closing of the additional stores.

At the end of last month, the athletic retailer confirmed it had received inquiries from private equity firms who wanted to buy the chain.