NEW YORK — Lower sales dragged down Macy’s profit during the first quarter as customers’ habits shift to more online shopping and retail locations lose traffic.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations, and the nation’s largest department store chain warned sales will fall further this year. Its shares lost $3.42, more than 11 percent, to $25.92 in early trading.

Cincinnati-based Macy’s said its profit slumped 39 percent to $71 million, or 23 cents per share in the quarter. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had forecast an average of 35 cents a share.

The department store operator’s revenue fell 7.5 percent to $5.34 billion, also below Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.47 billion.

Sales at established stores fell 5.2 percent, the ninth straight period of sales declines for the important metric. Like many department stores, Macy’s has faced sluggish sales as customers buy more online and less at the malls where department stores are often an anchor. Macy’s has been closing stores as it tries to regroup.

Rival Kohl’s also reported a drop in first-quarter revenue, but cost cuts helped boost profits, which topped expectations.

The climate is a big challenge for new Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, who succeeded longtime Chief Executive Terry Lundgren in March.

Macy’s had performed in stellar fashion after the recession, but has seen sales fall as online leader Amazon and off-price rivals such as TJ Maxx take business from traditional department stores. Under Lundgren, Macy’s promoted more exclusive merchandise. Macy’s has also tested an off-price strategy and new ideas like self-service in some of its shoe departments.

But none of that has stopped the decline. And some new services have flopped.