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SUNBURY, PA-Weis Markets Inc.’s net income rose 7.2% to $14.6 million on sales that increase 2.8% to nearly $536 million for the second quarter ended June 25, the company reported Thursday. Comparable store sales for the period increased 2.5%.

The regional grocery chain, which operates 157 food stores and 33 SuperPetz pet supply stores, reported that earnings per share rose to 54 cents in the second quarter, up from 50 cents a year ago, when net income was $13.6 million.

Year-to-date, the company’s sales increased 4.2% to $1.1 billion while net income increased 5.1% to $31.4 million. Year-to-date diluted earnings per share increased 5.5% to $1.16 per share and the company’s comparable store sales over the 26-week period ending June 25, 2005, increased 4.2%.

Weis says it continues to see improvements in a number of areas, including its promotional programs, which it calls “sustained and cost effective.” It says that sales continue to increase in perishable departments and key center store categories despite competition in virtually all of its markets.

On the other hand, the chain is concerned about what it calls “exorbitant increases in its credit and debit interchange fees” in connection with the use of credit and debit cards by its customers. “Over the past 10 years, the company’s interchange fees have increased 582.0% due to substantial rate increases and higher customer usage,” Weis says. It is also absorbing higher costs for fuel and for employee health care benefits.

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