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Shoppers enter the Sears store at the Eaton Centre in Toronto during a closing sale on Jan. 13, 2014. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
Shoppers enter the Sears store at the Eaton Centre in Toronto during a closing sale on Jan. 13, 2014. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Sears Canada blames severe winter for fall in sales Add to ...

Struggling department store operator Sears Canada Inc posted a fall in quarterly sales, citing severe winter weather and power outages in the holiday shopping season.

A major ice storm blanketed central and eastern Canada in December, causing widespread damage, power failures, temporary store closures and disruptions to travel and business.

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Sears Canada, controlled by hedge fund billionaire Eddie Lampert and his Sears Holdings Corp, lost over 220 store hours in December and January due to severe weather and power failures, compared with about 40 hours a year earlier.

“Despite this, we continued to have a positive quarterly same-store sales increase in our apparel and accessories business, but it was not enough to offset the impact felt in our home and hardlines businesses,” Chief Executive Doug Campbell said in a statement on Wednesday.

Last month, Canadian dollar-store operator Dollarama Inc attributed the fall in December comparable-store sales to severe winter weather.

Sears Canada said same-store sales fell 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1, adjusted for an extra week a year earlier.

Total revenue fell to C$1.18-billion ($1.07-billion) in the 13 weeks ended Feb. 1 from $1.31-billion in the 14 weeks ended Feb. 2, 2013.

The company’s net income rose to C$373.7-million, or C$3.67 per share, in the quarter from C$39.9-million, or 39 Canadian cents per share, helped mainly by a pretax gain related to early lease terminations and amendments.

Sears Canada said in January that it would cut 7 per cent of its workforce.

The company’s shares closed at C$13.30 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock has fallen about 27 per cent in the past three months.

 
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