The Sanuk brand, the newest addition to our portfolio, started the year off very well. Strong sell end of the spring line has been followed by equally strong sell-through at retail in March and April. At the same time, wholesale orders for the UGG brand spring styles were up meaningfully versus a year ago as was sell-through in our Domestic Stores. Sales of the Teva brand expanded close -- Teva brand expanded close sale offering, also delivered solid gains. Unfortunately, very mild temperatures, along with a tough comparison created by the cold and snowy conditions across much of the U.S. at the same time last year, had a noticeable impact on boot sales during the first quarter. Despite these challenging conditions, we believe that we've done a good job managing inventory and adjusting our purchase orders. We expect to enter the fall selling season in good shape with relatively clean channels.
In terms of our bottom line performance, earnings were down approximately 59% versus a year ago, which is primarily attributable to the increase in sheepskin prices, together with the increase in operating expense from our growing retail organization. As we have previously indicated, sheepskin prices are up 40% in 2012 from 2011. Zohar will speak more specifically about the outlook for sheepskin prices in a moment, but they do appear to be coming down from their historic highs, which should provide relief beginning in 2013. And we do expect to get better leverage on our retail expense over the full year driven by the fourth quarter when that channel typically generates more than 50% of its annual revenue and more than 90% of its operating income.
So let's look at each brand's performance in more detail. For the UGG brand, as I mentioned, we believe that the extended period of warm weather throughout the first quarter has adversely impacted cold-weather UGG brand boot sales. However, we also believe that the UGG brand continues to make important inroads, developing a more meaningful spring season business. I think it's helpful to look at the Q1 performance of our casual spring footwear in boots separately from our cold-weather boots as there was a meaningful difference between the 2 categories. Our expanded spring line of sandals, sneakers, wedges, fabric boots and Mini Bailey Button did very well across each of our channels including wholesale where our spring styles were up close to 20% and have continued to gain important shelf space.
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