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DALLAS-Foot traffic is improving at Tuesday Morning Corp. stores, but sales remain small, executives said at the company’s third quarter conference call.

For the quarter, net sales were $167 million, down 6.4% from the same period last year. Comparable store sales decreased 9.5%. The decrease in comparable store sales was comprised of a 1.7% decrease in traffic and a 7.8% decrease in average ticket. The company reported a net loss of $6.8 million, compared to a net loss of $4.7 million during the same quarter last year.

“We did see foot traffic improve sequentially into March and through March,” said Kathleen Mason, president and CEO. “Our customer has shopped more frequently, but bought much smaller baskets.”

Most affected, Mason said, were stores in Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona, where the housing market has suffered most. Not surprisingly, the company is focusing on improving its existing stores rather than expanding. Plans call for reopening four stores that had closed temporarily and replacing three closed units.

“We believe relocating and expanding stores in our existing base will improve the overall portfolio,” Mason said.

For the nine-month period ended March 31, 2009, net sales were $613.1 million, down 11% from the same period last year. Comparable store sales dropped 14.2%, comprised of an 8.3% decrease in traffic and a 5.9% decrease in average ticket. Net income was $1.6 million, compared to net income of $17.0 million.

Tuesday Morning currently operates 850 stores in 45 states.

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