SAVANNAH, GA-Urban-apparel retailer Citi Trends is entering new markets as the chain moves further north and west from its core stores in the Southeast. For example, during its second quarter, which ended July 29, the company opened its first unit in the St. Louis market.

Citi Trends has traditionally focused on expanding in existing markets, but the retailer is now branching out. New areas executives plan to enter in the third quarter are Cleveland and areas in Florida and Texas that it had not previously penetrated.

The company opened three stores during the second quarter, bringing its overall store count to 253 units. For the remainder of the year, the chain is planning 22 to 25 new stores, making its total expansion plans for 2006 between 40 and 43 units, a 20% jump in total square footage.

Same-store sales during the quarter soared up 7.3% year-over-year, on top of an 11.5% comparable increase last year’s second quarter. The best-selling products were accessories, up 15%, followed by home décor and men’s items, both up 12%. Women’s apparel lagged, only inching up 1%.

Total sales for Citi Trends came in at $76.3 million, a 28.4% increase, while net income jumped 235%, to $1.3 million. However, based on an uncertain third-quarter forecast, management lowered earnings-per-share expectations for the year to between $1.37 to $1.41 from $1.43 to $1.47.

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