SG&A expense was 21.9 percent of sales in the 2012 period compared to 22.3 percent in the 2011 period, an improvement of 35 basis points. Excluding the items described above relating to operating profit, SG&A, as percentage of sales, improved by 18 basis points largely due to improved utilization of retail store labor and the impact of increased sales. Various other cost reduction efforts affecting expenses also contributed to the overall decrease in SG&A as a percentage of sales. Costs that increased at a rate higher than the increase in sales include fees associated with the increased use of debit cards and advertising costs.
Interest expense was $73 million in the 2012 period, a decrease of $53 million from the 2011 period, due to lower average outstanding borrowings and a lower average interest rate. Other (income) expense in the 2012 period includes pretax losses totaling $29.0 million resulting from the Company’s redemption of its 11.875%/12.125% senior subordinated notes, a $2.5 million pretax gain resulting from the settlement of interest rate swaps, and a pretax loss of $1.6 million resulting from the amendment of the senior secured revolving credit facility in the first quarter. Other (income) expense in the 2011 period includes pretax losses totaling $60.3 million resulting from the Company’s repurchase of its 10.625% senior notes.
The effective income tax rate for the 2012 period was 36.2 percent compared to a rate of 37.5 percent for the 2011 period. Increases in the effective tax rate associated with the expiration of various federal jobs credits for workers hired after December 31, 2011 (primarily the Work Opportunity Tax Credit) as well as the expiration of the Hire Act’s Retention Credit were more than offset by decreases totaling $14.5 million (or $0.04 per diluted share) associated with the adjustment of accruals due to the favorable resolution of income tax audits.