Third quarter Retail Food net sales were $4.96 billion compared to $5.36 billion last year, a decline of 7.4 percent, primarily reflecting identical store sales of negative 4.5 percent and the disposition of a majority of the Company’s retail fuel centers which contributed $112 million in sales in the third quarter of fiscal 2012.
Retail Food operating earnings were $84 million and included a net $21 million pre-tax benefit comprised of $41 million related to a cash settlement received from credit card companies which was partially offset by charges of $20 million related to previously announced store closures. For the third quarter of fiscal 2012, Retail Food operating loss was $818 million, including $907 million in pre-tax non-cash goodwill and intangible asset impairment charges. Excluding these benefits and charges in both years, third quarter Retail Food operating earnings were $63 million, or 1.3 percent of net sales compared to $89 million, or 1.7 percent of net sales last year. The change in Retail Food operating earnings as a percent of net sales was primarily due to increased promotional activity, an increased level of continued investment in competitive pricing, and the deleveraging impact of negative identical store sales which were partially offset by a lower LIFO charge and the favorable impact of higher generic drug sales in the Company’s pharmacies.
Third quarter Save-A-Lot net sales were $966 million compared to $982 million last year, a decrease of 1.6 percent, reflecting the impact from network identical store sales of negative 4.1 percent and recently announced store closures partially offset by the benefit from 20 net new stores being operated at the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2013.
Save-A-Lot operating earnings in the third quarter were $28 million and included $10 million in pre-tax charges primarily related to previously announced store closure costs. Excluding these costs, Save-A-Lot operating earnings for the third quarter were $38 million, or 3.9 percent of net sales compared to $59 million, or 6.1 percent of net sales last year. The decline in operating earnings as a percent of net sales was primarily attributable to lower gross margin rates attributable to competitive price investments and the de-leveraging impact of negative identical store sales.