* Sales slip 4.4 percent at Lord & Taylor unit
TORONTO, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Canadian department store operator Hudson’s Bay Co reported a sharp deceleration in same-store sales growth on Thursday and said sales at existing Lord & Taylor stores fell in the last nine weeks of 2012.
HBC, which operates Hudson’s Bay in Canada and Lord & Taylor in the United States, warned in December that Superstorm Sandy would weigh on sales, as it forced 80 percent of Lord & Taylor stores to close or cut their hours.
For the nine weeks ended Dec. 29, consolidated same-store sales rose 1.9 percent, compared with 7.5 percent growth a year earlier. Excluding the impact of the storm, same-store sales would have increased 3.7 percent, the company said.
Same-store sales fell 4.4 percent at Lord & Taylor, and rose 6.7 percent at Hudson’s Bay. The figures include sales at locations open at least 13 months as well as online and clearance store sales.
The report came as U.S. retailers posted December sales figures. Some major players had a tough month, as consumers were cautious in their holiday spending.
Macy’s Inc said same-store sales rose 4.1 percent in December, just above the 4.0 percent analysts expected, but the department store chain lowered its fourth-quarter sales and profit forecasts.
Shares of HBC have languished below their offer price in the firm’s November initial public offering, partly on fears that its Canadian business could stumble once Target Corp opens its first stores north of the border in the spring.
HBC, which has seen very thin volume since its first few trading days, was unchanged at C$16.50 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.