Kroger annual sales up 7.1%

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday reported total sales of $96.8 billion, up 7.1% as compared with the prior fiscal year. After adjusting for the extra week in fiscal 2012, total sales increased to $94.8 billion or 4.9% compared with the prior fiscal year. Excluding fuel, total sales increased 6% over the same period last year. Further adjusting for the extra week, total sales excluding fuel increased 4%.

Identical sales were up 4.5% including fuel centers. For the quarter, comparable sales were up 3.5% (with fuel), marking 37 consecutive quarters of positive identical sales growth, Kroger noted.  

"Consumer confidence was fragile throughout the year," David Dillon, Kroger chairman and CEO, told analysts Thursday morning. "But it hit its lowest point this January as customers voiced heightened concern over taxes." And consumer confidence will remain a headwind into 2013, Dillon added, because of four factors: the state of the economy, gas prices, payroll taxes and government policy uncertainty.

That only means Kroger will need to continue to work hard on serving Kroger's shopper, Dillon suggested. "We remain confident in our ability to delivery growth despite the economic uncertainty. Our team has produced strong results by executing our customer-first strategy over the last five years."

For the full year, trips were up though average marketbasket was down, Kroger reported. Though the number of loyal households and the number of trips out of those households were both on the rise. 

In early-afternoon trading, Kroger's stock listing was up 3.6% to more than $30.40 per share. 

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