Zale first quarter sales up 9%

Zale Corp., Dallas, the No. 1 U.S. specialty jewelry retailer, reported that total sales for its first quarter were up 9%. However, same-store sales fell 2.3%, and are down 7% since the Sept. 11 air attacks.

The company reported a same-store sales increase of 3.5% in the same period last year.

Zale said same-store sales figures-or sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of retail performance-are before the effect of foreign currencies. Total sales for the quarter were $405 million, from $372 million last year.

It said trends show the high-end consumer has been the most sharply affected by the recent events, while a moderate segment of the company’s business continues to be supported by the core wedding area and traditional gift-giving occasions.