Blacks Leisure says that its operating profits will fall short of market expectations, citing a 3.9 percent drop in comparable store sales in the 18-week period ended Jan. 3, with declines of 0.5 percent drop in outdoor revenues and 19.2 percent in boardwear sales.

For the six weeks leading up to Jan. 3, which comprise the prime holiday selling period, comparable sales were also down by 3.9 percent – 1.3 percent in outdoor and 14.9 percent in boardwear. For the same six weeks in 2007, outdoor sales grew by 4.5 percent and boardwear fell by 14.2 percent.

The company noted that its outdoor business was holding its own in a difficult economic climate, but boardwear was dragging the numbers down. To try to dilute this effect, it is transferring its O’Neill wholesale business to O’Neill Europe, a subsidiary of Logo International. It will also turn 10 of its FreeSpirit stores into outdoor stores, beginning this month.