NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Analysts suspected it would be bad but no one was prepared for the sea of red as Aeropostale (ARO) reported a larger-than-expected loss for its third quarter, prompting a sell-off in after-hours trading.

The apparel retailer recorded a net loss of 29 cents a share, a 5-cent wider gap than analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast. Sales of $514.6 million came in 15% below last year, missing consensus by $5.6 million.

The New York-based retailer's comparable sales paint a grim picture, dropping 15% in the third quarter. Aeropostale's online channels, typically seen as a revenue generator at other retailers, came in flat compared to a year earlier.

After the bell, Aeropostale shares tripped 3.9% to $9, adding to the day's 3.9% falls already suffered.

Fourth-quarter guidance failed to hit the mark. The company expects to see a net loss between 24 cents and 32 cents a share, while analysts had hoped for a more optimistic 8-cent loss.

"Our comparable sales decline was in-line with our year-to-date trend, and we were more promotional than anticipated in order to strengthen our inventory position going into the fourth quarter," said CEO Thomas P. Johnson in a statement. "However, we were disappointed in our overall performance as customer adoption is occurring more slowly than we would like against the backdrop of a challenging teen retail environment."

Encouraging the teen demographic to spend is a challenge the market knows well. Competitor Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) has been dealing with the same issues, reporting a third-quarter same-store sales drop of 14% with weak sales over August and September hitting the company hard.

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