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Hibbett Sports slumps after warning of 'challenging' sales

By Melissa Wen

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Shares of Hibbett Sports Inc <HIBB.O> dropped 32 percent on Monday after the U.S. sports apparel retailer warned it would be affected by "very challenging" sales trends.

The retailer estimated a decline of about 10 percent in its comparable-store sales for the second quarter, ending on July 29, that would pressure its gross margins.

Shares of Hibbett Sports, which operates about 1,000 stores in the U.S. South, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, fell $6.37 to $13.32 shortly before the close. The stock has plunged about 64 percent so far this year.

Shares of rival athletic clothing retailers Foot Locker Inc <FL.N>, Dick's Sporting Goods <DKS.N>, Finish Line Inc <FINL.O> and Genesco Inc <GCO.N> all fell more than 4 percent. Sector stocks have been under pressure since Nike said in late June it would launch a pilot program to sell certain products on Amazon and Instagram.

"The fashion has changed, the consumer is less interested, judging based on the results of these companies," said Quo Vadis Capital analyst John Zolidis.

U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers are under immense pressure from Amazon.com <AMZN.O> and other online retailers. Apparel retailers have also been hurt by falling shopping mall traffic and consumer trends away from pricey clothing.

On Monday, Birmingham, Alabama-based Hibbett Sports launched an e-commerce website. In a research note, Zolidis called the website "woefully late."

"Despite the difficult retail environment, the company remains focused on improving its business for the long term," Hibbett Sports Chief Executive Jeff Rosenthal said in a statement.

Nike, Hibbett's largest vendor, has been pulling back from dealing with retailers and reaching out more directly to customers, Zolidis said.

(Reporting by Melissa Wen; Editing by Richard Chang)