Gross profit margin for the third quarter of fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2012 was 20.4 percent. The gross profit margin reflects continued moderating inflation resulting in lower inflation-driven inventory gains in the distribution segment and a higher mix of fuel sales, offset by a decrease in LIFO expense compared to the prior year quarter in both the distribution and retail segments.
Third quarter operating expenses, excluding restructuring, asset impairment and other gains or losses, were $149.1 million, or 18.9 percent of net sales, compared to $150.5 million, or 18.9 percent of net sales in the same quarter last year. The decrease was due to lower incentive compensation expense, a reduction in promotional expenses due to the cycling of the rollout of the Yes loyalty program, and lower property taxes, partially offset by higher health care costs.
Net sales for the distribution segment were $346.1 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 compared to $353.8 million in the same period last year.Third quarter fiscal 2013 operating earnings for the distribution segment were $9.5 million compared to $10.9 million in the same period last year. The decrease in operating earnings is primarily due to a continuation of lower inflation-driven inventory gains as the rate of inflation continues to moderate, partially offset by a decrease in LIFO expense. We also incurred a $0.3 million signing bonus associated with the completion of our labor union contract in October. Retail Segment Net sales for the retail segment were $443.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 compared to $443.5 million in the same period last year. The slight increase in sales was due to increased fuel retail selling prices and increased fuel volume, partially offset by a decline in comparable store sales, excluding fuel, of 1.2 percent. Comparable store sales were negatively impacted by minimal inflation, a calendar shift due to the 53 rd week in fiscal 2012 and the change in mix of pharmacy sales away from branded medications to generics. Third quarter fiscal 2013 adjusted operating earnings for the retail segment were $2.5 million, excluding $0.4 million of professional fees associated with the single store acquisition, compared to $1.6 million last year, excluding $0.5 million from a gain on sale of assets. The improvement in adjusted operating earnings was primarily due to a decrease in incentive compensation expense, a reduction in promotional expenses due to the cycling of the rollout of the Yes loyalty program, lower LIFO expense, and higher fuel margins, partially offset by significantly higher health care costs. Third quarter operating earnings as reported were $2.1 million in both fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2012.