Charming Shoppes Shutting 150 Stores

Add Charming Shoppes to the growing list of chains deciding to shut some stores. There's been a steady stream of these kinds of announcements in recent weeks. It still feels like it's within the range of historic norms for this time of year. It's pretty typical that we'll get a several thousand store closings in the first quarter. A weaker-than-normal holiday shopping season may accelerate that a bit. But we're still not in a situation where the numbers are truly frightening.

About 150 underperforming stores, including 100 Fashion Bug sites and all Petite Sophisticate locations, will be closed, the Bensalem, Pennsylvania-based company said today in a statement. About 150 management positions were eliminated on Jan. 31, and 50 more job cuts will come with the relocation of Catherines home operations to headquarters.

Charming Shoppes said it will also trim $40 million, or 30 percent, from its spending budget for the year beginning Feb. 3, mostly from reducing store openings by half. In November, the retailer forecast a fourth-quarter loss of as much as 8 cents a share, compared with net income of 19 cents a year earlier.

The moves stem from an ``ongoing business review and in response to the continuing weak retail and economic environment,'' Charming Shoppes said in the statement. The retailer employs about 30,000 full- and part-time workers, according to its Web site.

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