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Easter shift, milder winter slows Ingles Q2 comps

Earnings fall as expenses increase

A calendar shift in Easter holiday sales, milder winter weather and higher expenses triggered a 36.1% decrease in net earnings despite total sales improvements at Ingles Markets during the fiscal second quarter, the company said in a release Friday.

The Asheville, N.C.-based retailer reported sales for the period, which ended March 24, improved by 2.4% to $946.2 million, while comparable-store sales, excluding fuel, declined by 0.3%, reflecting increased store traffic but smaller average baskets. Net income for the quarter totaled $9.2 million, compared with $14.4 in last year’s second quarter, reflecting increased personnel costs and higher interest expenses.

“Our stores reported higher sales in the second quarter as we continued to deliver a great shopping experience to our customers. We expect our planned investments in new and existing stores to contribute to our long-term performance,” the company said in its release.

Retail dollar sales and gross profit decreased slightly, partly due to the timing of the Easter holiday, which fell in the second quarter of 2016 but in the current third quarter this year, Ingles said. Milder winter weather in the current year also adversely impacted fiscal 2017 sales and earnings compared with fiscal 2016.

Higher gasoline sales, both in dollars and gallons, helped to offset the negative comparable impact of Easter sales.

For the first half of fiscal 2017, Ingles sales are up 2.7% to $1.9 billion and non-fuel comps increased by 0.8%, reflecting a 1.2% increase in transactions but a 0.2% decline in average basket.

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