St. Louis-based The May Department Stores Co. reported preliminary net retail sales of $925.5 million for the four-week period ended Nov. 2, 2002, a 3.8% decrease from $961.7 million in the similar period last year. Store-for-store sales decreased 7.1%, which compares to a 4.8% same-store sales decline for the year to date period.

For the third quarter of fiscal 2002, sales were $3.05 billion, a 4.1% decrease, compared with $3.18 billion during the third quarter of fiscal 2001.

Sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2002 were $9.30 billion, a 1.5% decrease, compared with $9.45 billion during the first nine months of fiscal 2001.

The company will report its third quarter earnings on Nov. 11, 2002.

During October, May opened a Filene's store in Leominster, Mass., and a Hecht's store in Greensboro, N.C., completing its plans to open 11 new department stores in 2002. These two stores, similar to the Robinsons-May store that opened last month in Irvine, Calif., represent a new store design May is testing. The smaller 140,000-sq.-ft. layout, with a contemporary design and flexible merchandise presentations, provides an easy-to-shop format and enables May to open stores in innovative centers, including mixed-use "lifestyle" projects.

David's Bridal also opened two new stores during October for a total of 22 to date this year. An additional eight stores will be opened by year end.

May Department Stores currently operates 445 department stores under the names of Lord & Taylor, Famous-Barr, Filene's, Foley's, Hecht's, Kaufmann's, L.S. Ayres, Meier & Frank, Robinsons-May, Strawbridge's and The Jones Store, as well as 172 David's Bridal stores, 237 After Hours Formalwear stores, and 10 Priscilla of Boston stores in its Bridal Group.