The sign at the entrance of a J.C. Penney store is pictured in Arcadia, California March 1, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The sign at the entrance of a J.C. Penney store is pictured in Arcadia, California March 1, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (Copyright Reuters 2013)

J.C. Penney Reports 1Q Loss, Sales Drop

Industries Reuters

U.S. department store operator J.C. Penney joined rivals including Macy's and Kohl's in reporting a drop in sales in a quarter marked by a slump in apparel demand.

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Shares of the company, which also reported a surprise drop in comparable sales, fell 13 percent to $6.78 in premarket trading on Friday.

A shift in spending patterns is proving costly for U.S. department stores, with shoppers preferring to spend more on items such as electronics, homes and cars than on clothes.

Sales at J.C. Penney stores open at least a year fell 0.4 percent in the first quarter ended April 30, compared with the 3.3 percent rise expected by analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix.

J.C. Penney's net loss narrowed to $68 million, or 22 cents per share, in the quarter, from $150 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

However, net sales fell 1.6 percent to $2.81 billion.

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Excluding items, the company reported a loss of 32 cents per share.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of 38 cents per share on revenue of $2.92 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)