The company accomplished this despite a 2 percent decrease in net sales for the quarter (which included 2.1 percent drop in same-store sales), which totaled $728 million. According to a statement from Belk, it was able to return to profitability by controlling inventories and expenses, and improving its gross margin. Selling, general and administrative expenses were slimmed by 8.3 percent, and cost of goods sold by fell 6. 8 percent. The latter resulted in a 360 basis-point rise in gross margin.
“We believe that the operating environment has stabilized, and merchandise margins have improved,” said Tim Belk, chairman and chief executive officer.
Nevertheless, the company said that consumers continued to spend cautiously in the third quarter.