Merchandise margins for the quarter were 60.2% of sales compared to 59.8% of sales in the same period last year, reflecting strong input margins, an optimal balance between regular and promotional pricing, and well-managed inventory levels. Store occupancy costs were $67.2 million for the quarter, or 18.6% of sales, compared to $65.9 million, or 19.7% of sales, last year. Gross profit for the quarter improved to $150.3 million, or 41.6% of sales, from $134.1 million, or 40.1% of sales in the first quarter of last year.

First quarter selling, general and administrative expenses declined 40 basis points as a percentage of sales year-over-year and are detailed as follows:
             
Three months ended
May 26, 2012 May 28, 2011 Increase
Expense   % Sales Expense % Sales (Decrease)
($ in millions)
Store payroll $ 58.3 16.1 % $ 55.3 16.5 % $ 3.0
Marketing 17.9 5.0 % 16.3 4.9 % 1.6
Store supplies, services and other   6.3 1.8 %   6.3 1.9 %   -  
Variable costs 82.5 22.9 % 77.9 23.3 % 4.6
 
Administrative payroll 22.6 6.2 % 19.7 5.9 % 2.9
Other relatively fixed expenses   11.2 3.1 %   11.6 3.4 %   (0.4 )
Relatively fixed costs 33.8 9.3 % 31.3 9.3 % 2.5
     
$ 116.3 32.2 % $ 109.2 32.6 % $ 7.1  
 

Operating income for the first quarter increased approximately 38% to $27.4 million, or 7.6% of sales, compared to last year’s operating income of $19.9 million, or 5.9% of sales.

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