MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores here plans to increase space devoted to food items in 2,800 stores during fiscal 2008, its officials said in a conference call yesterday. The discount chain also said it will equip around 1,500 stores with checkouts that facilitate acceptance of food stamps, as the company prepares for what it termed a “a difficult macro-environment with limited near-term visibility” for the fiscal year, which began Sept. 2. “Volatile gasoline prices that burdened our customers in 2007 will most likely continue in 2008, and the inflationary pressures we have seen in key consumables like food show no sign of abating,” Howard Levine, chairman and chief executive officer, said in conference call. Family Dollar said sales for the fiscal year increased 6.9% to $6.8 billion, with comparable-store sales growing by 0.9%. In the fourth quarter, earnings increased 17.0% to $37.8 million on sales of $1.6 billion, a 3.4% increase from the same period last year. Sales of food, as well as toys, were the primary categories driving the sales increase, officials said.
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