ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Increased store traffic and a more productive sales mix helped Ingles Markets  post gains in sales and earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year, the retailer said Tuesday.
“Given the extended recession and intensified competition for a smaller amount of consumer dollars, we’re pleased with our growth in sales and customer traffic,” Ron Freeman, chief financial officer, Ingles, said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter and year, which ended Sept. 25. “We believe we have reacted well in this difficult environment.”
Ingles reported quarterly net income of $8.5 million — a 63.5% increase from the same period a year ago — on sales of $856 million. Overall sales increased 2.1%, and comparable-store sales, excluding gas, increased by 1.8%.
Store traffic was up by 5.4% for the quarter, more than making up for a lower average ticket per visit, Freeman said. Gross margins improved by 70 basis points in the quarter as customers bought more higher margins including produce, he added.
Sales for the fiscal year improved 4.3% to $3.4 billion, and net earnings of $31.7 million improved by 10.1%.