For the third quarter, JC Penney reported net sales of $2.78 billion compared to $2.93 billion in the fiscal third quarter of 2012. Comparable store sales declined 4.8% for the quarter, which represented a sequential improvement of 710 basis points when compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2013.
The quarter ended with a positive 0.9% comparable store sales gain in October. In addition, sales results improved sequentially each month within the quarter. Online sales through jcp.com were $266 million for the quarter, up 24.5% versus the same period last year and reflecting sequential increases through the quarter.
Women's apparel, men's apparel and fine jewelry were the Company's top performing merchandise divisions.
For the third quarter, gross margin was 29.5% of sales, compared to 32.5% in the same quarter last year. Gross margin for the third quarter was negatively impacted by lower clearance margins due to the overhang of inventory from the first two quarters of the year, higher levels of clearance units sold, as well as the Company's transition back to a promotional pricing strategy as compared to last year's strategy. Notwithstanding, gross margin did improve sequentially throughout the quarter.
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