GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Operating in one of the regions hardest hit by the economic downturn, Spartan Stores here last week said its comparable-store sales fell 1.8% in the first quarter, excluding the impact of fuel-price deflation and the effect of the later Easter holiday this year. Overall retail sales, however, were up 18.7%, primarily due to the acquisition last year of the VG's chain and to the $2.2 million sales bump from Easter. The company projected that its comps would remain ...

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