Upscale retailer Saks Inc posted a first-quarter loss on Tuesday, as inventory reductions and costs cuts were not enough to completely offset a steep drop in sales.

Saks' net loss was $5.1 million, or 4 cents per share, in the fiscal first quarter that ended May 2, compared with a profit of $17.3 million or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales fell 26.9 percent to $621.3 million.

Saks has been one of the worst hit retailers in the recession. It has faced months of sales declines and had to resort to deep discounts in the holiday quarter to attract shoppers to its stores.

Saks shares were up 8.8 percent to $4.44 in premarket trade from Monday's closing price of $4.08.

(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman, editing by Dave Zimmerman)