Sales increases in our pharmacy, home fashions, health and beauty care, consumables and apparel areas, together with a substantial lift in gross margin rate, enabled Kmart to more than triple earnings per share in the quarter before the non-recurring charge.
September comparable sales were on plan, with strength in home appliances and electronics partially offsetting slow fall apparel results due to unseasonably warm weather. Other categories showing strong performance included home decor, outdoor sporting goods, jewelry, stationery, cosmetics and fragrances, cameras and accessories, consumables, seasonal items and pharmaceuticals.
Kmart's sales for the month were on plan and we are pleased with our progress in a number of key businesses.
With our eighth consecutive quarter of increased earnings per share, we continue to feel good about the turnaround momentum at Kmart.
While the precise outcome of the legal process remains to be seen, Kmart believes that, in light of Hechinger's filing, it is appropriate to take the charge at this time. Considering current market conditions, we anticipate that Kmart will be able to convert or sub-lease most, if not all, of these properties within a reasonable period after they are returned.
Kmart's sales for October were on plan despite softer apparel sales due to unseasonably warm weather during the latter half of the month. Sales volumes for the third quarter were near expectations. Categories showing particular strength for the month included home appliances and electronics, do-it-yourself, home decor, cosmetics and fragrances, consumables, stationery and pharmaceuticals.
We will be able to decrease the number of cartons we process in our distribution centers, reduce our capital expenditure needs and cut our inventory by about $150 million.
Despite the soft overall March performance, we saw gains in selected areas such as home related products and apparel which were affected by favorable weather and improved merchandise offerings.
With a planned IPO of BlueLight.com next year ... we are excited about the potential value of our holdings and the positive impact it will have on Kmart's value.