Upscale department store operator Saks Inc posted a wider quarterly loss on Tuesday as well-heeled shoppers held back from pricey purchases in the recession.

Saks' net loss was $54.5 million, or 39 cents per share, in the fiscal second quarter ended on August 1, compared with a loss of $32.7 million, or 24 cents per share, a year earlier.

Saks said sales fell 14.5 percent to $561.7 million, with same-store sales down 15.5 percent.

The recession, an unsteady stock market since September and job losses have curbed consumers' ability to spend freely in Saks' stores. To offset languishing sales, Saks has been cutting costs and trimming inventory.

Saks, which sells designer brands such as Marc Jacobs, Versace and Oscar de la Renta, expects same-store sales to fall in a mid-to-high single digit range in the second half of the year, with the third quarter being weaker than the fourth.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl, with additional reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman in Seattle, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)