Nordstrom reported net earnings of $20.42 million for the third fiscal quarter ended Oct. 31, down 7 percent from the $21.96 million reported for the same period last year.

Earnings for the past nine months ended Oct. 31 were $69.51 million, down 17 percent from the $83.48 million logged in the first three quarters of 1989.Third quarter sales were $634.89 million, up 11 percent from the $572.38 million reported for the same quarter last year. Nine-month sales increased 10 percent from $1.81 billion to $1.99 billion.

Sales during the quarter reflected more cautious consumer spending patterns in all regions of the company's operations, said John Goesling, senior vice president. Sales in stores opened more than one year decreased 2 percent during the quarter.

"We are not immune from effects of the softening sales trends in the entire retail industry," said Goesling. "We are encouraged, however, that our efforts to control inventories and expenses have reduced the impact on earnings."