Harris Teeter posts Q3 same-store sales gains of 1.3% despite holiday shift

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Harris Teeter Supermarkets on Thursday reported a third-quarter sales increase of 2.9% to $1.2 billion. Comparable-store sales were up 1.3% for the quarter. Same-store sales were negatively impacted by the shift of both the Easter and Fourth of July holidays. Sales for Easter were reported in the company’s second quarter of fiscal 2013, as compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2012; in addition, sales for the day before the Fourth of July holiday will be reported in the company’s fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, but was included in the third quarter of fiscal 2012. Harris Teeter estimates that the negative impact due to the shift in the holiday periods was 70 basis points for the quarter.

"Our comparable store sales increase, which was negatively impacted by the shift of both the Easter and Fourth of July holidays, remained positive despite the fact that we still do not see any meaningful inflation for the current year," stated Thomas Dickson, Harris Teeter chairman and CEO. "In addition, after adjusting for the shift in the holidays, we continue to realize an increase in the number of items sold year-over-year. We believe that our pricing and promotional strategies are effective in driving unit sales while increasing the quarterly gross margin by 32 basis points over the prior year.”

Over the first nine months of fiscal 2013, Harris Teeter opened five new stores, two of which were the stores acquired from Lowe’s Food Stores in 2012 that were re-opened under a new format and banner — “201central.” Total apital expenditures for fiscal 2013 are forecast to total approximately $200 million. During fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, Harris Teeter plans to open four new stores and complete major remodels on two stores. 

The company’s capital expenditure plans entail the continued expansion of its existing markets, including the Washington, D.C., metro area which incorporates northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, southern Maryland and coastal Delaware. 

On July 8, 2013, Harris Teeter and Kroger entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Kroger will purchase all outstanding shares of Harris Teeter for $49.38 per share in cash. The terms of the merger agreement were approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

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