PLANO, TX-Rent-A-Center’s same-store sales fell 1.8% year over year during its third quarter due to overall economic pressure, executives say. However, October sales momentum has improved, says Mark Speese, the company’s chairman and CEO.

“I am cautiously optimistic that most of our shakeup in regards to our customers has taken place,” he says. Management predicts that same-store sales will come in flat during the fourth quarter.

The company’s total revenues in its Q3 shot up 20.9%, to $709.7 million, due to its acquisition last year of 784 Rent-Way stores for $567 million. Due to the purchase, the chain consolidated 24 stores during the quarter and opened 10 new units, giving it a net reduction of 14 locations.

In the coming quarter, Rent-A-Center management is forecasting five-to-10 new stores to its 3,360-unit portfolio. Over the next fiscal year, the company plans to add 40 new locations.

Same-store sales through 2008 are forecast to come in from 0% to 2% year over year. Financial-services departments, which are now in 282 units, will be added to another 200 stores.

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