Leading US mall-based specialty retailer of music-licensed and music-influenced apparel, accessories and gift items for teens, Hot Topic Inc, today announced its third quarter net sales jumped 28 per cent to $92.06 million from net sales of $72.2m.

The company revealed that third-quarter same-store sales increased by 2.2 per cent compared to the same period last year, while net sales for fiscal October 2001 increased by 25 per cent to $28.3m, from net sales of $22.7m for fiscal October 2000.

Same-store sales for the four weeks ended November 3, fell 4.4 percent compared with the year ago period. The same store sales increase for the corresponding four-week period in fiscal 2000 was 13 per cent.

The October comparable store sales decrease resulted primarily from reduced store traffic and sales during the week leading up to Halloween. 

The company also announced that it expects to open 73 new stores in 2001, three more than the previously announced 70 stores and will end the year with 346 Hot Topic and six Torrid stores.

It now expects that third quarter earnings per share will be approximately 39 cents per diluted share (previously expected 40 cents to 42 cents per diluted share), compared with 34 cents per diluted share in the third quarter of 2000.

Betsy McLaughlin, president and chief executive officer, said: "Although we are pleased to have produced a positive 2.2 per cent comp increase for the quarter, we are disappointed with the October sales performance. Historically, October is the only month of the year that we have significant sales to an incremental, non-target customer.

"These customers are generally older and typically shop for their Halloween costume during the week prior to the holiday. The October sales shortfall resulted principally from reduced mall traffic and sales during that short period. Despite the below plan sales during October, inventories are on plan as we enter the month of November.

"While Halloween-related sales were below our plan, we experienced positive comparable store sales results in key categories that were not Halloween related.

During the past week with the store presentation shifted from Halloween to a pre-holiday floor set, comparable sales have trended at a low positive single digit comp," she added.