Brand name apparel, accessories and footwear retailer Stage Stores Inc said total sales for the four-week April period ended 4 May 2002 were $60.8 million versus $62.0 million for the comparable period last year - a decrease of 1.9 per cent.

The company blamed the fact that the Easter holiday was in March this year while it fell into the April period last year.

Results for the combined nine week fiscal March and April period saw comparable stores sales increased 7.3% as compared to the same nine week period last year.

For the entire first quarter of fiscal 2002, the Company reported a comparable store sales increase 7 per cent to $206.7 million, which represents a 5.7 per cent increase over the prior year's total first quarter sales of $195.5 million.