US crunch takes its toll on Williams-Sonoma sales

US housewares retailer Williams-Sonoma suffered a knock in sales in the first quarter of the year, and is expecting the downward trend to continue.
Total sales for the first three months of 2008 dropped 4.2% to $781.8m from $816.1m in the same quarter of 2007. Like-for-like sales across the company’s various brands were all down: -4.8% at Williams-Sonoma stores, -10.5% at Pottery Barn, -10.9% at Pottery Barn Kids and -13% at outlet stores.

CEO Howard Lester said: “As we look forward to the balance of the year we are doing so with a more cautious outlook, based on a continuing deterioration in the macroeconomic environment and industry-wide sales declines in the home furnishings category overall.”

As a result, the company has adjusted its sales forecast for the rest of the year. Second-quarter sales are now predicted to be between $828m and $846m, down from the previous forecast of $850m to $868m. The company expects like-for-likes to drop between 8 and 10%.

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