PLANO (AP) – JCPenney Co.’s revenue at stores open at least a year dipped 1.9 percent in August, hurt by Hurricane Irene and a later start to back-to-school shopping. The performance fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 0.8 percent increase.

This metric is a key gauge of a retailer’s health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

For the four weeks ended Aug. 27, total revenue dropped 4.5 percent.

The department store chain said Thursday that while back-to-school shopping started later this year, sales picked up throughout the month.

Some of the strongest categories were men’s clothing and women’s accessories. The southwest and southeast were August’s top performing regions.

Earlier this month JCPenney reported a flat second-quarter profit as it aggressively marked down prices on fashions to get its middle-income shoppers to keep spending in an increasingly uncertain economy.

JCPenney, based in Plano, Texas, runs more than 1,100 of its stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Its stock fell 8 cents to $26.56 in morning trading.

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