Clinton Cards has warned its pre-tax profits will be “significantly lower” than market expectations after the snow hit its December sales.

The greetings cards retailer said that despite stable margins and costs remaining in line with budget, the year to date sales shortfall leads the board to expect pre-tax profits for the year to July 31 2011 to be “significantly lower” than current market expectations.

For the five weeks to January 2, Clinton’s reported like-for-like sales fell 2% and at Birthdays UK like-for-likes were down 1.5%. For the 22 weeks to January 2, Clinton’s like-for-likes were down 2.9% and Birthdays UK by 0.6%.

Total UK like-for-likes for the five-week period were down 2% and in the 22-week period by 2.6%. Birthdays Eire reported total sales down 12.2% for the five-week period and 13.6% for the 22-week period.

Clinton Cards chairman Don Lewin said: “Whilst the impact of such adverse weather conditions in the weeks building up to Christmas is very disappointing, the board remains confident in the strategic initiatives it is taking in the rebranding and redesign of its store portfolio and the imminent launch of the new website.”