SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Stater Bros. Markets here said yesterday the downturn in the economy resulted in a drop in net income for the third quarter and 39 weeks ended June 29, while increases in customer counts helped boost sales results. Net income fell 41% to $9.2 million for the 13-week quarter and 14.1% to $33.6 million for the year to date, while sales rose 2.5% for the quarter to a record $932.7 million — despite the timing of Easter in this year's second quarter and last year's third quarter — and 4.5% to $2.8 billion for the 39-week period. Same-store sales climbed 1.8% in the quarter after taking the timing of Easter into account and 2.9% for the year to date. According to Jack Brown, chairman and chief executive officer, "Our financial results were affected by the downturn in the economy and the negative effect it had on family budgets. We held the line on some price increases to assist our customers in coping with outrageous food costs and general price increases, which negatively affected our earnings. However, our plan to hold our customer counts was accomplished, with an increase of 324,000 customers during the last 10 weeks."
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