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CINCINNATI-Federated Department Stores’ sales slid 0.2%, at just more than $5.9 billion during the company’s first quarter. Same-store sales for the period, which ended May 5, inched up 0.6%, though operating income came in at $208 million, up from $20 million during the same year-ago period.

The home and furniture business at Macy’s chain were hit particularly hard during the quarter and apparel sales were down as well in April. Executives say they are concerned about the overall consumer and economic environment but expect sales trends to improve through the year.

Management also says sales were down in stores that were converted into Macy’s units last year as a result of the acquisition of May Department Stores. “We need to bring more customers into these new trade areas to try the Macy’s store,” says Karen Hoguet, Federated’s chief financial officer.

To combat the slump in the new stores, Federated will engage in more public-media advertising as opposed to direct mailings, Hoguet says.

Federated opened five new Macy’s, in Austin, TX; Bolingbrook, IL; Boston and Hyannis, MA; Collierville, TN, as well as a Bloomingdale’s, in Costa Mesa, CA. The company closed a Macy’s in Salt Lake City and operates about 850 stores nationwide.

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