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ST. LOUIS-Famous Footwear’s same-stores sales fell 0.1% year over year during the first quarter of Brown Shoe Co., the firm that owns the 963-store chain. The stores were hampered by weak sales in athletic footwear, executives say.

Total sales for Famous Footwear were just under $292.7 million, a gain of 2.2% for the quarter, which ended July 29. Earnings jumped to $11.9 million, from $9.3 million. During the period, the company opened 28 stores and closed 17. For the fiscal year, management plans to open 90 new units and close 40.

Other than the athletic category, executives say sales were up in all other areas, with children’s departments leading the way. So far this current quarter, athletic-shoe sales are reportedly performing better, getting a boost from the back-to-school season.

Brown Shoe’s specialty chain of 305 stores, mostly under the Naturalizer banner, posted a 2.7% same-store sales drop. Sandal sales particularly hurt the chains. “Our Canadian business on a store-for-store basis is where we saw the biggest drop,” said Ron Fromm, Brown Shoe’s chairman and chief executive officer, during the company’s quarterly conference call. The specialty division opened one new store and closed eight during Brown Shoe’s Q1.

Brown Shoe’s wholesale business posted a 9.5% sales gain, coming in at about $227.2 million. Banking in part of a Famous Footwear same-store sales increase of 2% to 3% for the back half of the year, Brown Shoe executives predict earnings per share to come in between $2.08 and $2.17 for the year.

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