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MATTHEWS, NC-Family Dollar management slightly lowered its same-store sales and earnings guidance for the year because of expectations that the consumer environment “will continue to be volatile,” says Howard Levine, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. Same-store sales guidance dropped from between 1% and 3% to 1% and 2% year over year, while earnings-per-share guidance fell from $1.63 to $1.69 to $1.62 to $1.65.

Same-store sales for the third quarter, which ended June 2, rose 1.5%, while total sales increased 5.4%, to just less than $1.7 billion. Net income came in at $60.4 million, up from $56.8 million during the same year-ago period.

Levine says fluctuating energy prices have impacted sales, but that he expects improvements in employment and wages to help the retailer’s low-income consumer base. The continued acceptance of food stamps in Family Dollar sales could also provide a sales boost.

About 1,500 of the company’s 6,300 units are in urban markets, and the company will continue to focus on those markets, where Levine says the outfit has a “strategic advantage” with other deep-discount chains. “We continue to be very positive about the urban initiative,” he says.

Family Dollar opened 232 new stores during the first three quarters of its fiscal year and closed 37. Management expects to open 300 and close 45 through the fourth quarter.

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