Stage Stores widened its net loss in the first quarter as a result of margin pressures and weak comparable store sales.

In the three months ended 3 May, the company reported a net loss of US$18.8m. This compared to a loss of $6.7m in the prior year period.

Gross margin declined to 20.9% from 24.1% in last year's quarter.

Total sales from continuing operations remained relatively flat at $372m from $372.1m in the year ago quarter. Comparable store sales dropped 0.2%.

"Comparable store sales were flat in a volatile first-quarter, marked by a highly promotional retail environment and unseasonable weather," said CEO Michael Glazer. "Our results were also impacted by our sales mix for the quarter, which was heavily weighted with clearance goods. While this hurt our gross margin, we feel very good about our inventory content heading into the rest of the year."

Despite this, the company is maintaining its full-year comparable store sales guidance of flat to up 2%, and EPS guidance range from continuing operations of $1.25 to $1.35.