Sport Chalet stumbles with early winter sales

Sport Chalet reported slightly lower same-store sales and profit for its fiscal 2013 third quarter, ended Dec. 30, 2012, blaming a warm start to winter and weaker holiday sales.
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Sport Chalet reported slightly lower same-store sales and profit for its fiscal 2013 third quarter, ended Dec. 30, 2012, blaming a warm start to winter and weaker holiday sales.

The outdoor, fitness and sporting goods retailer with 54 locations in the Southwest, said same-store sales slipped 0.7 percent during the latest quarter, while the company’s net loss increased to $1.9 million, versus a net loss of $1 million a year ago. Overall revenue inched up 0.4 percent to $97.6 million for the quarter, boosted primarily by a 32.6 percent increase in its online sales.

“Our third quarter results were well below our expectations,” said Sport Chalet CEO Craig Levra in a statement with the Feb. 6 earnings release. “Following a strong summer and fall, positive sales trends deteriorated significantly in November and for the first two weeks of December. Unseasonably warm and dry weather coming on top of a bad winter sports season last year, combined with our customers’ general economic uncertainty and our desire to be less promotional all contributed to the decrease in comparable store sales.”

Despite the lackluster start to winter, officials sounded an optimistic note, reporting early 2013 same-store sales up an impressive 20.3 percent through the first five weeks of the year.

“We believe that the January sales numbers reflect both the return to more ‘normal’ winter weather conditions and the continued response of our customers to our strategy of being first to market with performance, technology and lifestyle merchandise as evidenced by our growth in average ticket size,” Levra said.

Despite the confidence ahead, investors were not pleased with the recent results, pushing Sport Chalet’s stock (Nasdaq: SPCHA) down more than 20 percent in early trading Feb. 7.

Investors likely see Sport Chalet’s negative holiday results as a deviation among its peers. Big Five Sporting Goods reported its preliminary fourth-quarter 2012 same-store-sales up 6.5 percent and expected stronger profits. It, along with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports, will report full quarterly earnings in the next few weeks.

-- David Clucas

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