US retailer Hibbett Sports has lowered its first-quarter guidance due to the impact of using markdowns to clear older stock.

For the three months ended 29 April, comparable store sales are expect to decrease by around 4-5%, based on softer sales trends to start the year. The decline in sales, along with additional clearance markdowns, is expected to result in earnings per diluted share in the range of $0.94 to $0.97.

For the full year, earnings per diluted share are expected to be in the range of $2.35 to $2.55, which assumes additional markdown pressure going forward to liquidate aged inventory. This compares with previous full-year guidance of earnings per diluted share in the range of $2.65 to $2.85.

"We experienced a slow start to the quarter with a double-digit decline in comparable store sales in February, most of which we believe was attributable to a delay in tax refunds," says CEO Jeff Rosenthal. "Comparable store sales improved significantly in March to the positive mid-single digit range, but did not offset the decline in February."

So far in April, Hibbett says it is very pleased with continued comparable store sales in the mid-single digit range, driven by strength in footwear and the successful roll-out of its store-to-store/home initiative.

"Looking forward, we believe that our store-to-store/home capability and the launch of our e-commerce initiative in the third quarter will help drive comparable store sales. Simultaneously in the first quarter, we increased our emphasis on expense controls, which we believe will help to maximise profitability," Rosenthal added.