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Big Lots Narrows Q3 Loss

Big LotsCOLUMBUS, Ohio-Slimmed-down expenses and a significantly reduced loss from discontinued operations enabled Big Lots to post a third-quarter net loss of $3.4 million, compared to its net loss of $9.5 million in last year's third quarter.

The retailer's loss from discontinued operations amounted to $326,000, compared to the $7.6 million loss from discontinued operations from last year's third quarter. In addition, interest expense was trimmed by 26.9 percent. Selling and administrative expenses were down 0.1 percent in dollars and 10 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 36.6 percent.

Net sales in the quarter, which ended on Nov. 1, edged up 0.2 percent, including a gain of 1.4 percent in same-store sales. Gross margin slipped by 10 basis points to 38.9 percent.

David Campisi, Big Lots' president and CEO, said, "For the third consecutive quarter, our comps were positive as we continue to gain traction and build sales consistency in our business. Jennifer, our core customer, is responding positively to our improved merchandising strategies like the recent expansion of our food category, our furniture lease-to-purchase program and our emphasis on the quality, brand, fashion and value components of our assortments."

Since Campisi took his post last year, Big Lots has identified its core customer as "Jennifer" (a popular name in the Big Lots Buzz Club Rewards Program). Jennifer is described in the company's annual report as a "smart hunter," a "savvy bargainista," a "pragmatic minimalist" and a "focused traditionalist."

For the fourth quarter, Big Lots said it expects a same-store sales increase in the low single digits. For the fiscal year as a whole, same-store sales should rise by between 1 and 2 percent, the company said.