Macy's Inc posted a wider quarterly loss on Wednesday, hurt by a persisting decline in sales as shoppers at its department stores shunned unnecessary items in the recession.

Macy's net loss increased to $88 million, or 21 cents per share, in the first quarter ended May 2, compared with a loss of $59 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales fell 9.5 percent to nearly $5.2 billion, Macy's said.

Department store chains have been among the worst hit sectors in the recession, as U.S. consumers steadfastly stick to shopping lists and spend only on essential items such as food and medicine in the economic slump.

Last week, Macy's posted a 9.1 percent decline in April sales at stores open at least a year.

Macy's said it was prudent to keep its full-year outlook, given the economic uncertainty. It still expects earnings of 40 cents to 55 cents a share for the year, excluding consolidation costs.

Its shares rose 2.8 percent in premarket trading.

(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman, editing by Dave Zimmerman)