CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Harris Teeter is feeling the chill of the slowing economy.
Shoppers made fewer discretionary purchases and traded down to lower-priced store-brand items, leading to a 2.1% decline in comparable-store sales during the fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 28, the retailer said last week.
“We, like everyone else, are facing unprecedented economic uncertainty, tumultuous market conditions, and a decreasing level of consumer confidence, resulting in reduced consumer spending,” Thomas W. Dickson, president and chief executive officer of Ruddick Corp., the parent company of Harris Teeter, said in a statement.
The company said it would reduce its planned capital spending by 12% to $212 million this year and by 29% to $150 million in fiscal 2010.
Harris Teeter showed an operating profit gain of 0.2% during the quarter to $44.3 million on a sales increase of 3.6%, to $928.9 million.
Dickson said the company is reducing expenses to offset investments in promotional activity, adding that such efforts have improved comps early in the current quarter.