MATTHEWS, N.C. — Falling prices and value-conscious shoppers contributed to a 2.4% quarterly same-store sales decrease at Harris Teeter here, despite the chain drawing more shoppers and selling more items on a comparable basis.
In the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 27, Harris Teeter’s parent company, Ruddick Corp., said operating profits at the chain dropped 1.2% to $175.6 million compared with the same period last year, on sales of $3.8 billion, a 4.4% increase. Net earnings of 49 cents per share exceeded analyst consensus of 47 cents
The company said deflation and price and promotion investments contributed to the profit decrease, which was offset by expense reductions. The sales increase was attributable to new stores, offset by cannibalization, deflation, a shift to private label items and a decrease in discretionary categories, including floral, tobacco and general merchandise.
“I am encouraged by the refinements we are making to our merchandising strategies during these times of economic uncertainty and constantly changing consumer behavior,” Thomas W. Dickson, president and chief executive officer of Ruddick, said in a statement. “We made investments in promotional activity, as well as price, to drive customer shopping visits and loyalty, while remaining focused on enhancing the overall value we deliver to our customers.”
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